Innovations advancing our understanding of microglia in Alzheimer's disease: From in vitro to in vivo models

Publication Name

Journal of Neurochemistry


Microglia have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis through the identification of risk factor genes that are specifically or predominantly expressed in this cell type. Additional evidence suggests that microglia undergo dramatic morphological and phenotypic state changes during AD progression, as observed in human post-mortem tissue and animal model research. Although valuable, these studies are often hampered by either representing one time point in human tissue (end point) or because of the lack of conservation between species of microglial transcriptomes, proteomes and cell states. Thus, the development and application of novel human model systems have been beneficial in the study of microglia in neurodegeneration. Recent innovations include the use of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived microglia in 2D or 3D culture systems, the transdifferentiation of microglia from patient monocytes and the xenotransplantation of hPSC-derived microglia into mouse brains. This review summarizes the recent innovations that have advanced our understanding of microglia in AD, through the use of single-cell RNA sequencing, hPSC-derived microglia culture within brain organoids and xenotransplantation into mouse brain. Through outlining the strengths and limitations of these approaches, we provide recommendations that will aid future endeavours in advancing our understanding of the complex role of microglia in AD onset and progression. (Figure presented.)

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)