Phagocyte-mediated synapse removal in cortical neuroinflammation is promoted by local calcium accumulation

Mehrnoosh Jafari, Adrian Minh Schumacher, Nicolas Snaidero, Emily M. Ullrich Gavilanes, Tradite Neziraj, Virág Kocsis-Jutka, Daniel Engels, Tanja Jürgens, Ingrid Wagner, Juan Daniel Flórez Weidinger, Stephanie S. Schmidt, Eduardo Beltrán, Nellwyn Hagan, Lisa Woodworth, Dimitry Ofengeim, Joseph Gans, Fred Wolf, Mario Kreutzfeldt, Ruben Portugues, Doron MerklerThomas Misgeld, Martin Kerschensteiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Cortical pathology contributes to chronic cognitive impairment of patients suffering from the neuroinflammatory disease multiple sclerosis (MS). How such gray matter inflammation affects neuronal structure and function is not well understood. In the present study, we use functional and structural in vivo imaging in a mouse model of cortical MS to demonstrate that bouts of cortical inflammation disrupt cortical circuit activity coincident with a widespread, but transient, loss of dendritic spines. Spines destined for removal show local calcium accumulations and are subsequently removed by invading macrophages or activated microglia. Targeting phagocyte activation with a new antagonist of the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor prevents cortical synapse loss. Overall, our study identifies synapse loss as a key pathological feature of inflammatory gray matter lesions that is amenable to immunomodulatory therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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