A study led by the researchers of our centre shows that microglia is a sensor of newborn neuron death and maintains the equilibrium between life and death
Neuronal death, commonly associated with brain aging and disease, also affects young neurons. During brain development, newborn neurons undergo programmed cell death, a sort of cellular suicide called apoptosis. To avoid becoming a cemetery, the brain has a highly effective patrol of cellular watchers that rapidly eliminate the corpses, the microglia, through a process named "phagocytosis".
However, phagocytosis is not merely a passive removal of debris, as shown by a recent study led by Jorge Valero and Amanda Sierra, from ACHUCARRO, IKERBASQUE and and the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). On the contrary, dead neuron phagocytosis is an active process that directly affects the health and the function of the surrounding neurons.