Cien años de microglía: milestones in a century of microglial research


  • A. Sierra
  • R.C. Paolicelli
  • H. Kettenmann


  • Trends in Neurosciences


  • Trends Neurosci 42 (11): 778-792


  • The year 2019 marks the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of microglia by Pío del Río-Hortega. We will recount the state of neuroscience research at the beginning of the 20th century and the heated scientific dispute regarding microglial identity. We will then walk through some of the milestones of microglial research in the decades since then. In the last 20 years, the field has grown exponentially. Researchers have shown that microglia are unlike any other resident macrophages: they have a unique origin and distinguishing features. Microglia are extraordinarily motile cells and constantly survey their environment, interacting with neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, neural stem cells, and infiltrating immune cells. We finally highlight some open questions for future research regarding microglia's identity, population dynamics, and dual (beneficial and detrimental) role in pathology.