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Riquier -

Sollars -

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Developmental Neurobiology

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Programmed reduction of synapses is a hallmark of the developing brain, with sensory systems emerging as useful models with which to study this pruning. The central projections (terminal field) of the gustatory glossopharyngeal nerve (GL) of the rat are a prime example of developmental pruning, undergoing an approximate 66% reduction in volume from postnatal day 15 (P15) to P25. Later in adulthood, developmental GL pruning can be experimentally reversed, expanding to preweaning volumes, suggesting mature volumes may be actively maintained throughout the life span. Microglia are central nervous system glia cells that perform pruning and maintenance functions in other sensory systems, including other gustatory nerves. To determine their role in GL pruning, we depleted microglia from Sprague–Dawley rat brains from P1 to P40 using daily intraperitoneal injections of the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor inhibitor PLX5622. This prevented GL developmental pruning, resulting in preweaning terminal field volumes and innervation patterns persisting through P40, 2 weeks after pruning is normally completed. These findings show microglia are necessary for developmental GL pruning. Ceasing PLX5622 treatments at P40 allowed microglia repopulation, and within 4 weeks the GL terminal field had reduced to control volumes, indicating that pruning can occur outside of the typical developmental period. Conversely, when microglia were depleted in adult rats, GL terminal fields expanded, reverting to sizes comparable to the neonatal rat. These data indicate that microglia are required for GL pruning and may continue to maintain the GL terminal field at a reduced size into adulthood.


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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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