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Synaptic Pruning by Microglia Is Necessary for Normal Brain Development

Science  09 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6048, pp. 1456-1458
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202529

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Abstract

Microglia are highly motile phagocytic cells that infiltrate and take up residence in the developing brain, where they are thought to provide a surveillance and scavenging function. However, although microglia have been shown to engulf and clear damaged cellular debris after brain insult, it remains less clear what role microglia play in the uninjured brain. Here, we show that microglia actively engulf synaptic material and play a major role in synaptic pruning during postnatal development in mice. These findings link microglia surveillance to synaptic maturation and suggest that deficits in microglia function may contribute to synaptic abnormalities seen in some neurodevelopmental disorders.

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