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Healthy Brain Aging Modifies Microglial Calcium Signaling In Vivo

Healthy Brain Aging Modifies Microglial Calcium Signaling In Vivo

International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20(3)

Brain aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammatory state, promoting deficits in cognition and the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Malfunction of microglia, the brain-resident immune cells, was suggested to play a critical role in neuroinflammation, but the mechanisms underlying this malfunctional phenotype remain unclear. Specifically, the age-related changes in microglial Ca2+ signaling, known to be linked to its executive functions, are not well understood. Here, using in vivo two-photon imaging, we characterize intracellular Ca2+ signaling and process extension of cortical microglia in young adult (2⁻4-month-old), middle-aged (9⁻11-month-old), and old (18⁻21-month-old) mice. Our data revealed a complex and nonlinear dependency of the properties of intracellular Ca2+ signals on an animal's age. While the fraction of cells displaying spontaneous Ca2+ transients progressively increased with age, the frequencies and durations of the spontaneous Ca2+ transients followed a bell-shaped relationship, with the most frequent and largest Ca2+ transients seen in middle-aged mice. Moreover, in old mice microglial processes extending toward an ATP source moved faster but in a more disorganized manner, compared to young adult mice. Altogether, these findings identify two distinct phenotypes of aging microglia: a reactive phenotype, abundantly present in middle-aged animals, and a dysfunctional/senescent phenotype ubiquitous in old mice.

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Accession: 066446165

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PMID: 30704036

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