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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 Jan 2024 - 26 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 22

Cell Rep




Editor's Pick

Repopulated spinal cord microglia exhibit a unique transcriptome and contribute to pain resolution.


Donovan LJ, Bridges CM, Nippert AR, Wang M, Wu S, Forman TE, Haight ES, Huck NA, Bond SF, Jordan CE, Gardner AM, Nair RV, Tawfik VL


Microglia are implicated as primarily detrimental in pain models; however, they exist across a continuum of states that contribute to homeostasis or pathology depending on timing and context. To clarify the specific contribution of microglia to pain progression, we take advantage of a temporally controlled transgenic approach to transiently deplete microglia. Unexpectedly, we observe complete resolution of pain coinciding with microglial repopulation rather than depletion. We find that repopulated mouse spinal cord microglia are morphologically distinct from control microglia and exhibit a unique transcriptome. Repopulated microglia from males and females express overlapping networks of genes related to phagocytosis and response to stress. We intersect the identified mouse genes with a single-nuclei microglial dataset from human spinal cord to identify human-relevant genes that may ultimately promote pain resolution after injury. This work presents a comprehensive approach to gene discovery in pain and provides datasets for the development of future microglial-targeted therapeutics.