Transcriptomics: Open Access

Transcriptomics: Open Access
Open Access

ISSN: 2329-8936

+44 1223 790975


Microglial P2 Purinergic Receptor and Immunomodulatory Gene Transcripts Vary By Region, Sex, and Age in the Healthy Mouse CNS

Jessica M. Crain and Jyoti J. Watters

Inflammatory damage in many neurodegenerative diseases is restricted to certain regions of the CNS, and while microglia have long been implicated in the pathology of many of these disorders, information comparing their gene expression in different CNS regions is lacking. Here we tested the hypothesis that the expression of purinergic receptors, estrogen receptors and other neuroprotective and pro-inflammatory genes differed among CNS regions in healthy mice. Because neurodegenerative diseases vary in incidence by sex and age, we also examined the regional distribution of these genes in male and female mice of four different ages between 21 days and 12 months. We postulated that pro-inflammatory gene expression would be higher in older animals, and lower in young adult females. We found that microglial gene expression differed across the CNS. Estrogen receptor alpha (Esr1) mRNA levels were often lower in microglia from the brainstem/spinal cord than from the cortex, whereas tumor necrosis factor alpha (Tnfα) expression was several times higher. In addition, the regional pattern of gene expression often changed with animal age; for example, no regional differences in P2X7 mRNA levels were detected in 21 day-old animals, but at 7 weeks and older, expression was highest in cerebellar microglia. Lastly, the expression of some genes was sexually dimorphic. In microglia from 12 month-old animals, mRNA levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase, but not Tnfα, were higher in females than males. These data suggest that microglial gene expression is not uniformly more proinflammatory in males or older animals. Moreover, microglia from CNS regions in which neuronal damage predominates in neurodegenerative disease do not generally express more pro-inflammatory genes than microglia from regions less frequently affected. This study provides an in-depth assessment of regional-, sex- and age-dependent differences in key microglial transcripts from the healthy mouse CNS.