Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common cause of acquired neurological disability in young adults, pathologically characterized by leukocyte infiltration of the central nervous system, demyelination of the white and grey matter, and subsequent axonal loss. Microglia are proposed to play a role in MS lesion formation, however previous literature has not been able to distinguish infiltrated macrophages from microglia. Therefore, in this study we utilize the microglia-specific, homeostatic markers TMEM119 and P2RY12 to characterize their immunoreactivity in MS grey matter lesions in comparison to white matter lesions. Furthermore, we assessed the immunological status of the white and grey matter lesions, as well as the responsivity of human white and grey matter derived microglia to inflammatory mediators. We are the first to show that white and grey matter lesions in post-mortem human material differ in their immunoreactivity for the homeostatic microglia-specific markers TMEM119 and P2RY12. In particular, whereas immunoreactivity for TMEM119 and P2RY12 is decreased in the center of WMLs, immunoreactivity for both markers is not altered in GMLs. Based on data from post-mortem human microglia cultures, treated with IL-4 or IFNγ+LPS and on counts of CD3+ or CD20+ lymphocytes in lesions, we show that downregulation of TMEM119 and P2RY12 immunoreactivity in MS lesions corresponds with the presence of lymphocytes and lymphocyte-derived cytokines within the parenchyma but not in the meninges. Furthermore, the presence of TMEM119+ and partly P2RY12+ microglia in pre-active lesions as well as in the rim of active white and grey matter lesions, in addition to TMEM119+ and P2RY12+ rod-like microglia in subpial grey matter lesions suggest that blocking the entrance of lymphocytes into the CNS of MS patients may not interfere with all possible effects of TMEM119+ and P2RY12+ microglia in both white and grey matter MS lesions.

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Acta neuropathologica communications
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Van Wageningen, T.A. (Thecla A.), Vlaar, E. (Eva), Kooij, G., Jongenelen, C.A.M. (Cornelis A. M.), Geurts, J., & Van Dam, A.-M. (Anne-Marie). (2019). Regulation of microglial TMEM119 and P2RY12 immunoreactivity in multiple sclerosis white and grey matter lesions is dependent on their inflammatory environment. Acta neuropathologica communications, 7(1). doi:10.1186/s40478-019-0850-z