How microglia sense and regulate neuronal activity

Anthony D. Umpierre, Long Jun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Microglia are innate immune cells of the central nervous system that sense extracellular cues. Brain injuries, inflammation, and pathology evoke dynamic structural responses in microglia, altering their morphology and motility. The dynamic motility of microglia is hypothesized to be a critical first step in sensing local alterations and engaging in pattern-specific responses. Alongside their pathological responses, microglia also sense and regulate neuronal activity. In this review, we consider the extracellular molecules, receptors, and mechanisms that allow microglia to sense neuronal activity changes under both hypoactivity and hyperactivity. We also highlight emerging in vivo evidence that microglia regulate neuronal activity, ranging from physiological to pathophysiological conditions. In addition, we discuss the emerging role of calcium signaling in microglial responses to the extracellular environment. The dynamic function of microglia in monitoring and influencing neuronal activity may be critical for brain homeostasis and circuit modification in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1637-1653
Number of pages17
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • calcium imaging
  • dynamics
  • microglia
  • neuronal activity
  • two-photon microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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