Microglia are the immune competent cells of the central nervous system (CNS). In response to many exogenous and endogenous molecules and in pathologies they can become activated, migrate to the location of the stimuli, release cytokines and become phagocytic. One of the most important molecules, released from other cell types, is
adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is sensed by microglia via purinergic receptors and modulates their activity and function. ATP is degraded on the cell surface by CD39, which is expressed in the CNS only by microglia. In the firrst part of my thesis, I studied how Cd39 deletion affects purinergic signaling in cultured microglia. I found that microglia devoid of CD39 are more sensitive to low concentrations of ATP, but do not show changes in the expression of purinergic receptors.
Absence of CD39 leads to higher amounts of ATP found in the supernatants of microglia upon medium change. In astrocyte-microglia co-cultures, astrocytes are the main source of ATP, while microglia are responsible for its rapid and effective removal. Lack of microglial CD39 enzyme also leads to a larger spread of the ATP-mediated astrocytic calcium waves. Taken together, I could show that microglial CD39 is an
important regulator of autocrine and paracrine ATP signaling both in microglia and astrocytes. Moreover I found that both Cd39 gene expression and protein activity are strongly reduced in a pro-inflammatory context, which led me to the second part of my
Here I investigated ATP-related microglia function in a maternal immune activation (MIA) mouse model of schizophrenia. In adult MIA offspring ATP-induced microglial phagocytosis was impaired. Calcium imaging experiments with freshly isolated microglia confirmed that the cells from MIA offspring exhibit reduced sensitivity to ATP.
In addition, mRNA expression of Cd39 and P2ry12 was increased in microglia from MIA offspring. In summary, microglia in this mouse model of schizophrenia exhibit an altered ATP-related phenotype, which points toward a purinergic disbalance in the brain of these animals.
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