Differential microglial regulation in the human spinal cord under normal and pathological conditions

M. Stoll, D. Capper, K. Dietz, A. Warth, A. Schleich, H. Schlaszus, R. Meyermann, M. Mittelbronn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


As the primary intrinsic immune effector cells of the central nervous system, microglia are involved in virtually all pathological processes of the brain and spinal cord including inflammatory, neurodegenerative, traumatic, neoplastic and vascular diseases. Despite this important role, there is a lack of data concerning microglial distribution and protein expression in the human spinal cord. In this study, we immunohistochemically investigated 10 normal human spinal cords to establish reference data and compared these results with 15 pathological human spinal cords deriving from distinct pathologies. Each spinal cord was evaluated at eight different levels for three white and two grey matter areas for both constitutive (MHC-II, CD68, IL-16, AIF-1, LCA, CD4) and reactive (MRP-8, MRP-14) microglial antigens. Whereas previous studies revealed significant regional differences in microglial distribution and protein expression in human brain, normal spinal cord displayed a uniform expression pattern, reaching levels of up to 17% MHC-II positive cells of the total cell population. This datum formed the basis for the further evaluation of microglia expression levels in pathological spinal cords, where levels of up to 45% positive cells were observed. Our results represent important reference values for future neuropathological diagnostic and therapeutical approaches in spinal cord pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-661
Number of pages12
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Human
  • Microglia
  • Regulation
  • Spinal cord


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