Microglia in the human nervous system during development.
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Microglia are the principal resident mononuclear phagocytes of the central nervous system (CNS). They are representatives of the immune system intrinsic to this organ. These cells are morphologically, phenotypically and functionally distinct from other populations of mononuclear phagocytes associated with the CNS, such as perivascular macrophages, supraependymal macrophages, epiplexus cells of the choroid plexus and meningeal macrophages. While the origin of microglia has been the subject of controversy for many years, the prevailing view holds that they are derived from mesenchyme (mesodermal elements) or from circulating blood mononuclear progenitors (monocytes) that penetrate the nervous tissues early in development. This article will review the location, distribution, morphology and phenotype of microglia in the developing human CNS. Potential functional roles for microglia are discussed in relation to developmental events.
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