Macrophage-like cells originate from neuroepithelium in culture: Characterization and properties of the macrophage-like cells

C. Hao, A. Richardson, S. Fedoroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations


Cultures of astroglia from C3H/HeJ mice, which are resistant to bacterial cell wall polysaccharide (LPS), initiated from embryos of Theiler stage 14 (9 days of gestation) up to Theiler stage 25 (17 days of gestation) as well as newborn animals, when subjected to nutritional deprivation, i.e. non-feeding of cultures, form large numbers of macrophage-like cells. These cells express Mac-1, Mac-3, F4/80 and Fc antigens. The cells are negative for GFAP, positive for vimentin, express Ia antigen and take up DiL-Ac-LDL. They are positive to non-specific esterase, secrete lysozyme and are phagocytic. Their morphology and ultrastructure closely resemble those of macrophages. Cultures initiated from neuroepithelium of Theiler stage 13 (8.5 days of gestation), before vascularization, when subjected to nutritional deprivation, also produce macrophage-like cells. Using spleen colony assay and methyl cellulose cultures, we were unable to detect the presence of hemopoietic (macrophage) precursor cells in astroglia cultures. This supports the hypothesis that the macrophage-like cells are of neuroectodermal origin and probably correspond to resident microglia of the CNS. Using nutritionally deprived astroglia cultures, a procedure was developed for isolation of macrophage-like cells and production of highly enriched macrophage-like (microglia) cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991



  • astroglia
  • macrophages
  • microglia
  • tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology

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