The subpopulation of microglia expressing functional muscarinic acetylcholine receptors expands in stroke and Alzheimer's disease


  • M. Pannell
  • M.A. Meier
  • F. Szulzewsky
  • V. Matyash
  • M. Endres
  • G. Kronenberg
  • V. Prinz
  • S. Waiczies
  • S.A. Wolf
  • H. Kettenmann


  • Brain Structure & Function


  • Brain Struct Funct 221 (2): 1157-1172


  • Microglia undergo a process of activation in pathology which is controlled by many factors including neurotransmitters. We found that a subpopulation (11 %) of freshly isolated adult microglia respond to the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor agonist carbachol with a Ca(2+) increase and a subpopulation of similar size (16 %) was observed by FACS analysis using an antibody against the M3 receptor subtype. The carbachol-sensitive population increased in microglia/brain macrophages isolated from tissue of mouse models for stroke (60 %) and Alzheimer's disease (25 %), but not for glioma and multiple sclerosis. Microglia cultured from adult and neonatal brain contained a carbachol-sensitive subpopulation (8 and 9 %), which was increased by treatment with interferon-{gamma} to around 60 %. This increase was sensitive to blockers of protein synthesis and correlated with an upregulation of the M3 receptor subtype and with an increased expression of MHC-I and MHC-II. Carbachol was a chemoattractant for microglia and decreased their phagocytic activity.