Phospholipid localization implies microglial morphology and function via Cdc42 in vitro

Kyohei Tokizane, Hiroyuki Konishi, Kumiko Makide, Hiroki Kawana, Shinichi Nakamuta, Kozo Kaibuchi, Tomohiko Ohwada, Junken Aoki, Hiroshi Kiyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Under a quiescent state, microglia exhibit a ramified shape, rather than the amoeboid-like morphology following injury or inflammation. The manipulation of microglial morphology in vitro has not been very successful, which has impeded the progress of microglial studies. We demonstrate that lysophosphatidylserine (LysoPS), a kind of lysophospholipids, rapidly and substantially alters the morphology of primary cultured microglia to an in vivo-like ramified shape in a receptor independent manner. This mechanism is mediated by Cdc42 activity. LysoPS is incorporated into the plasma membrane and converted to phosphatidylserine (PS) via the Lands' cycle. The accumulated PS on the membrane recruits Cdc42. Both Cdc42 and PS colocalize predominantly in primary and secondary processes, but not in peripheral branches or tips of microglia. Along with the morphological changes LysoPS suppresses inflammatory cytokine production and NF-kB activity. The present study provides a tool to manipulate a microglial phenotype from an amoeboid to a fully ramified in vitro, which certainly contributes to studies exploring microglial physiology and pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-755
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01-05-2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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