Circulating monocytes engraft in the brain, differentiate into microglia and contribute to the pathology following meningitis in mice

Marija Djukic, Alexander Mildner, Hauke Schmidt, Dirk Czesnik, Wolfgang Brück, Josef Priller, Roland Nau, Marco Prinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have demonstrated a potential role of brain endogenous microglia and meningeal macrophages in inflammation and brain injury during bacterial meningitis. However, the contribution of previously engrafted monocytes and microglia to this process is still unknown. We therefore used genetically labelled bone marrow-derived cells from transgenic mice expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the chicken beta-actin promoter to deliver fluorescently labelled monocytes to the diseased brain. Approximately 24 hours after Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, GFP-expressing parenchymal microglia changed their morphology to an activated phenotype and upregulated major histocompatibility complex class II molecules. Bacterial meningitis increased the engraftment of GFP+ monocytes and their differentiation to microglia during the post-inflammatory period, but not during acute meningitis. Importantly, these newly recruited monocytes became an integral part of the pool of parenchymal microglia and contributed to the clearance of damaged tissue by increased lysosomal activity and close location to apoptotic cells. Thus, circulating cells entering the brain such as monocytes/macrophages might provide a potential cellular target for the treatment of the tissue damage following meningitis via peripheral cell therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2394-403
Number of pages10
Issue numberPt 9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Brain
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cerebellum
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Hippocampus
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Luminescent Agents
  • Macrophages
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia
  • Monocytes
  • Temporal Lobe
  • Up-Regulation
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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