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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Individual microglia move rapidly and directly to nerve lesions in the leech central nervous system.

Small cells called microglia, which collect at nerve lesions, were tracked as they moved within the leech nerve cord to crushes made minutes or hours before. The aim of this study was to determine whether microglia respond as a group and move en masse or instead move individually, at different rates, and whether they move along axons directly to the lesion or take another route, such as along the edges of the nerve cord. Cell nuclei in living nerve cords were stained with Hoechst 33258 dye and observed under dim ultraviolet illumination using fluorescence optics, a low-light video camera, and computer-assisted signal enhancement. Muscular movements of the cord were selectively reduced by bathing in 23 mM MgCl2. Regions of nerve cord within 300 microns of the crush were observed for 2-6 hr. Only a fraction of microglia, typically less than 50%, moved at any time, traveling toward the lesion at speeds up to 7 microns/min. Cells were moving as soon as observation began, within 15 min of crushing, and traveled directly toward the lesion along axons or axon tracts. Movements and roles of leech microglia are compared with their vertebrate counterparts, which are also active and respond to nerve injury.[1]


  1. Individual microglia move rapidly and directly to nerve lesions in the leech central nervous system. McGlade-McCulloh, E., Morrissey, A.M., Norona, F., Muller, K.J. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1989) [Pubmed]
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