Microglia Stimulation by Protein Extract of Injured Rat Spinal Cord. A Novel In vitro Model for Studying Activated Microglia

Joaquim Hernández, Isaac Francos-Quijorna, Elena Redondo-Castro, Rubén López-Vales, Xavier Navarro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Research on microglia has established the differentiation between the so-called M1 and M2 phenotypes. However, new frameworks have been proposed attempting to discern between meaningful microglia profiles. We have set up an in vitro microglial activation model by adding an injured spinal cord (SCI) lysate to microglial cultures, obtained from postnatal rats, in order to mimic the environment of the spinal cord after injury. We found that under the presence of the SCI lysate microglial cells changed their phenotype, developing less ramified but longer processes, and proliferated. The SCI lysate also led to upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, downregulation of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and IL-4, and a biphasic profile of iNOS. In addition, a latex beads phagocytosis assay revealed the SCI lysate stimulated the phagocytic capacity of microglia. Flow cytometry analysis indicated that microglial cells showed a pro-inflammatory profile in the presence of SCI lysate. Finally, characterization of the microglial activation in the spinal cord on day 7 after contusion injury, we showed that these cells have a pro-inflammatory phenotype. Overall, these results indicate that the use of SCI lysates could be a useful tool to skew microglia towards a closer phenotype to that observed after the spinal cord contusion injury than the use of LPS or IFNγ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number582497
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


  • lysate
  • microglia
  • microglia culture
  • mRNA expression
  • phagocytosis
  • rat
  • spinal cord injury


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