Microglia are necessary for recovery from ALS-relevant motor neuron degeneration in a mouse model of TDP-43 proteinopathy
Krista J. Spiller*,1, Clark R. Restrepo1, Tahiyana Khan1, Myrna A. Dominique1, Terry C. Fang2, Rebecca G. Canter2, Christopher Roberts2, Richard M. Ransohoff3, John Q. Trojanowski1, Virginia M-Y. Lee1
1Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), Institute on Aging, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2Biogen, 225 Binney Street, Cambridge, MA, USA; 3Third Rock Ventures, Boston, MA
*Corresponding Author: email@example.com
Though motor neurons (MNs) selectively degenerate in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), other cell types are likely involved in this disease. We recently generated rNLS8 mice in which human TDP-43 (hTDP-43) pathology could be reversibly induced in neurons and expected microglia would contribute to neurodegeneration. However, only subtle microglial changes were detected during disease in the spinal cord, despite progressive MN loss, but microglia still reacted to inflammatory triggers in these mice. Notably, after the hTDP-43 expression was suppressed, microglia dramatically proliferated and changed their morphology and gene expression profiles. These abundant, reactive microglia selectively cleared neuronal hTDP-43, likely in a contact-dependent manner. Finally, when microgliosis was blocked during the early recovery phase using PLX3397, a CSF1R/c-kit inhibitor, rNLS8 mice persistently failed to regain full motor function, revealing an important neuroprotective role for microglia. Therefore, reactive microglia exert neuroprotective functions in this ALS model and definition of the underlying mechanism could point towards novel therapeutic strategies.
Funding: The ALS Association; the Judith and Jean Pape Adams Foundation