Microglia are considered the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS). In response to harmful stimuli, an inflammatory reaction ensues in which microglia are activated in a sequenced spectrum of pro- and antiinflammatory phenotypes that are akin to the well-characterized polarization states of peripheral macrophages. A “classically” activated M1 phenotype is known to eradicate toxicity. The transition to an “alternatively” activated M2 phenotype encompasses neuroprotection and repair. In recent years, inflammation has been considered an accompanying pathology in response to the accumulation of extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This study aimed to drive an M2a-biased immune phenotype with IL-4 in vitro and in vivo and to determine the subsequent effects on microglial activation and Aβ pathology.


In vitro, exogenous IL-4 was applied to BV2 microglial cell cultures to evaluate the temporal progression of microglial responses. In vivo, intracranial injections of an adeno-associate-virus (AAV) viral vector were performed to assess long-term expression of IL-4 in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of Aβ-depositing, APP/PS1 transgenic mice. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to assess the fold change in expression of biomarkers representing each of the microglial phenotypes in both the animal tissue and the BV2 cells. ELISAs quantified IL-4 expression and Aβ levels. Histological staining permitted quantification of microglial and astrocytic activity.


Both in vitro and in vivo models showed an enhanced M2a phenotype, and the in vivo model revealed a trend toward a decreased trend in Aβ deposition.


In summary, this study offers insight into the therapeutic potential of microglial immune response in AD.

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Published in Journal of Neuroinflammation, v. 12, article 41, p. 1-13.

© 2015 Latta et al.; licensee BioMed Central.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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