Monocytes/macrophages are immune system-like cells important for normal brain function. In the healthy brain, resident microglia are the major macrophage cell population; however, in brain tumors, peripheral monocytes/macrophages can infiltrate the brain and participate in brain tumor growth. Distinguishing these two populations is often challenging, owing to a paucity of universally accepted and reliable markers.
To identify discriminatory marker sets for microglia and peripheral monocytes/macrophages, Verena Haage, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Helmut Kettenmann, employed a large meta-analytic approach. This project was performed in collaboration with Dr. David H. Gutmann, Director of the Washington University NF Center. Using this approach, they discovered a robust set of microglia and peripheral monocyte/macrophage expression markers to discriminate these monocyte populations in both health and disease.
Haage V, Semtner M, Vidal RO, Hernandez DP, Pong WW, Chen Z, Hambardzumyan D, Magrini V, Ly A, Walker J, Mardis E, Mertins P, Sauer S, Kettenmann H, Gutmann DH. Comprehensive gene expression meta-analysis identifies signature genes that distinguish microglia from peripheral monocytes/macrophages in health and glioma. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2019 Feb 14;7(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s40478-019-0665-y.