Microglia in the cerebral wall of the human telencephalon at second trimester

Rezaie, Payam; Dean, Andrew; Male, David and Ulfig, Norbert (2005). Microglia in the cerebral wall of the human telencephalon at second trimester. Cerebral Cortex, 15(7) pp. 938–949.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhh194


We have recently begun to gain a clearer understanding of the phasing and patterns of colonization of the developing human brain by microglia. In this study we investigated the distribution, morphology and phenotype of microglia specifically within the wall of the human telencephalon from 12 to 24 gestational weeks (gw), a period that corresponds to the development of thalamocortical fibres passing through the transient subplate region of the developing cerebral wall. Sections from a total of 45 human fetal brains were immunoreacted to detect CD68 and MHC class II antigens and histochemically reacted with RCA-1 and tomato lectins. These markers were differentially expressed by anatomically discrete populations of microglia in the cerebral wall: two cell populations were noted during the initial phase of colonization (12–14 gw): (i) CD68++ RCA-1+ MHC II– amoeboid cells aligned within the subplate, and (ii) RCA-1++ CD68– MHC II– progenitors in the marginal layer and lower cortical plate that progressively ramified within the subplate, without seemingly passing through an ‘amoeboid’ state. At this stage microglia were largely absent from the germinal layers and the intermediate zone. From 14 to 15 gw, however, MHC class II positive cells were also detected within germinal layers and in the corpus callosum, and these cells, which coexpressed CD68 antigen (a marker associated with phagocytosis), further populated the lower half of the telencephalon from 18 to 24 gw. These findings are discussed in relation to developmental events that take place during the second trimester within the wall of the telencephalon.

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