Brain-resident microglia may promote tissue repair following stroke but, like other cells, they are vulnerable to ischemia. Here we identify mechanisms involved in microglial ischemic vulnerability. Using time-lapse imaging of cultured BV2 microglia, we show that simulated ischemia (oxygen-glucose deprivation; OGD) induces BV2 microglial cell death. Removal of extracellular Ca2+ or application of Brilliant Blue G (BBG), a potent P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) antagonist, protected BV2 microglia from death. To validate and extend these in vitro findings, we assessed parenchymal microglia in freshly isolated hippocampal tissue slices from GFP-reporter mice (CX3CR1GFP/+). We confirmed that calcium removal or application of apyrase, an ATP-degrading enzyme, abolished OGD-induced microglial cell death in situ, consistent with involvement of ionotropic purinergic receptors. Indeed, whole cell recordings identified P2X7R-like currents in tissue microglia, and OGD-induced microglial cell death was inhibited by BBG. These pharmacological results were complemented by studies in tissue slices from P2X7R null mice, in which OGD-induced microglia cell death was reduced by nearly half. Together, these results indicate that stroke-like conditions induce calcium-dependent microglial cell death that is mediated in part by P2X7R. This is the first identification of a purinergic receptor regulating microglial survival in living brain tissues. From a therapeutic standpoint, these findings could help direct novel approaches to enhance microglial survival and function following stroke and other neuropathological conditions.
- Cell death
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience