Persistent phagocytic characteristics of microglia in the substantia nigra of long-term parkinsonian macaques

Carlos Barcia*, Carmen María Ros, Francisco Ros-Bernal, Aurora Gómez, Valentina Annese, María Angeles Carrillo-de Sauvage, José Enrique Yuste, Carmen María Campuzano, Vicente de Pablos, Emiliano Fernández-Villalba, María Trinidad Herrero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Patients with Parkinson's disease show persistent microglial activation in the areas of the brain where the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons takes place. The reason for maintaining this activated state is still unknown, but it is thought that this persistent microglial activation may contribute to the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. In this study, we report the microanatomical details of microglia and the relationship between microglia and neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta of Parkinsonian monkeys years after insult with MPTP. We observed that microglial cells appear polarized toward dopaminergic neurons in MPTP-treated macaques compared to untreated animals and present clear phagocytic characteristics, such as engulfing gliaptic contacts, an increase in Golgi apparatus protein machinery and ball-and-chain phagocytic buds. These results demonstrate that activated microglia maintain phagocytic characteristics years after neurotoxin insult, and phagocytosis may be a key contributor to the neurodegenerative process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2013


  • Cell polarity
  • DAPI
  • Dopaminergic degeneration
  • GM130
  • Iba-1
  • Inflammation
  • Microglial motility
  • MPTP
  • Parkinson's disease
  • PD
  • SNpc
  • TH


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