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ARUK 2023 | Understanding microglia heterogeneity and plasticity in health and disease

Amy Lloyd, PhD, University of Dundee, Dundee, outlines the complexities of research into microglia in health and disease. In the field’s infancy, microglia were thought to fit into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories; there were populations that drove inflammation and damage and those that promoted protection and repair. Over time, it has become clear that microglia functions and phenotypes are highly heterogenous and do not fit into binary categories. Single cell transcriptomic analyses have revealed massive differences between microglia subsets, that change with time and in response to their environment. While this plasticity and heterogeneity complicates research into the roles of microglia in disease states, Dr Lloyd comments on the promise of ongoing research, including deep proteomic analyses. To gain an understanding of what goes wrong in disease, mapping the scope of microglia states in health is a critical first step. This interview took place at the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Conference 2023 in Aberdeen, UK.

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