Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 4 Jul 2020

Microglia is one of the four types of glial cell and are the central nervous system equivalent of monocyte-macrophage system 1,2. During health, they are essentially inactive with small cell bodies and numerous processes extending throughout the local parenchyma 1,2. When presented a condition with an inflammatory component, they are able to migrate to the site of activity and become antigen presenting cells, interacting with arriving T-lymphocytes, and able to phagocytose 2


Microglia is of mesenchymal origin, only entering the brain late during fetal development 1


Microglial cells are small and difficult to identify on routine light microscopy. 


A number of cell antigens can be targetted to identify these cells, including 1

  • CD68
  • ricinus communis agglutinin

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