Microglia sense neuronal activity via GABA in the early postnatal hippocampus


  • F. Logiacco
  • P. Xia
  • S.V. Georgiev
  • C. Franconi
  • Y.J. Chang
  • B. Ugursu
  • A. Sporbert
  • R. Kühn
  • H. Kettenmann
  • M. Semtner


  • Cell Reports


  • Cell Rep 37 (13): 110128


  • Microglia, the resident macrophages in the central nervous system, express receptors for classical neurotransmitters, such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate, suggesting that they sense synaptic activity. To detect microglial Ca(2+) responses to neuronal activity, we generate transgenic mouse lines expressing the fluorescent Ca(2+) indicator GCaMP6m, specifically in microglia and demonstrate that electrical stimulation of the Schaffer collateral pathway results in microglial Ca(2+) responses in early postnatal but not adult hippocampus. Preceding the microglial responses, we also observe similar Ca(2+) responses in astrocytes, and both are sensitive to tetrodotoxin. Blocking astrocytic glutamate uptake or GABA transport abolishes stimulation-induced microglial responses as well as antagonizing the microglial GABA(B) receptor. Our data, therefore, suggest that the neuronal activity-induced glutamate uptake and the release of GABA by astrocytes trigger the activation of GABA(B) receptors in microglia. This neuron, astrocyte, and microglia communication pathway might modulate microglial activity in developing neuronal networks.