Research ArticleNEUROIMMUNOLOGY

Microglial autophagy–associated phagocytosis is essential for recovery from neuroinflammation

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Science Immunology  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 52, eabb5077
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abb5077

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Microglia Matter

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and microglial activation is linked to its progression. Berglund et al. show that microglia carry out a noncanonical form of autophagy that targets degradation and clearance of myelin. Deletion of the autophagy regulator Atg7, but not the canonical macroautophagy protein Ulk1, was associated with greater accumulation of phagocytosed myelin and lack of recovery from MS-like disease in mice. Microglia from aged wild-type mice with MS-like disease had functional and phenotypic similarities to Atg7-deficient microglia, but treatment of aged mice with trehalose promoted myelin clearance and disease remission. These results suggest that a noncanonical form of autophagy in microglia is critical to myelin degradation and clearance, thus providing insight into microglia function during MS.

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