Tools for studying human microglia: In vitro and in vivo strategies

Anna S. Warden, Claudia Han, Emily Hansen, Samantha Trescott, Celina Nguyen, Roy Kim, Danielle Schafer, Avalon Johnson, Madison Wright, Gabriela Ramirez, Mark Lopez-Sanchez, Nicole G. Coufal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Microglia may only represent 10% of central nervous system (CNS) cells but they perform critical roles in development, homeostasis and neurological disease. Microglia are also environmentally regulated, quickly losing their transcriptomic and epigenetic signature after leaving the CNS. This facet of microglia biology is both fascinating and technically challenging influencing the study of the genetics and function of human microglia in a manner that recapitulates the CNS environment. In this review we provide a comprehensive overview of existing in vitro and in vivo methodology to study human microglia, such as immortalized cells lines, stem cell-derived microglia, cerebral organoids and xenotransplantation. Since there is currently no single method that completely recapitulates all hallmarks of human ex vivo adult homeostatic microglia, we also discuss the advantages and limitations of each existing model as a practical guide for researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-382
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Jan 2023


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