Research Paper Volume 11, Issue 8 pp 2388—2402
Long-term environmental enrichment affects microglial morphology in middle age mice
- 1 Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
- 2 The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
- 3 Department of Biomedical Informatics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
received: December 19, 2018 ; accepted: April 14, 2019 ; published: April 29, 2019 ;https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101923
How to Cite
Copyright: Ali et al. This is an open‐access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Aging is associated with increased central nervous system inflammation, in large part due to dysfunctional microglia. Environmental enrichment (EE) provides a model for studying the dynamics of lifestyle factors in the development of age-related neuroinflammation and microglial dysfunction. EE results in improvements in learning and memory, metabolism, and mental health in a variety of animal models. We recently reported that implementing EE in middle age promotes healthy aging. In the present study, we investigated whether EE influences microglial morphology, and whether EE is associated with changes in expression of microglial and neuroinflammatory markers. Inflammatory cytokines and MHC-II were reduced following 12-month EE in 10-month-old mice. Long-term EE for 7.5 months resulted in broad increases in Iba1 expression in hippocampus, hypothalamus, and amygdala detected by immunohistochemistry. Quantification of microglial morphology reveal both hypertrophy and ramification in these three brain regions, without increases in microglial cell density. These data indicate that long-term EE implemented in middle age results in a microglial state distinct from that of normal aging in standard laboratory housing, in specific brain regions, associated with reduced neuroinflammatory markers and improvement of systemic metabolism.