Identification of a Unique Subretinal Microglia Type in Retinal Degeneration Using Single Cell RNA-Seq.
As the resident macrophages of central nervous system, microglia reside in the plexiform and nerve fiber layers of the retina. In degenerative diseases, monocyte-derived macrophages can be recruited to the retina, and histopathology shows abnormal accumulation of macrophages subretinally. However, due to lack of known markers, recruited cells and resident microglia are phenotypically indistinguishable, leaving a major knowledge gap about their potentially independent roles. Here, we used single cell RNA-seq and analyzed over 10,000 immune cells of mouse retinas from normal control and light damage-induced retinal degeneration. We observed ten major macrophage clusters. Moreover, combining trajectory analysis and in situ validation allowed us to pinpoint that subretinal phagocytes are microglia-derived and express high levels of Gal3, Cd68, and Lpl but not P2ry12. Hence, we have identified novel subretinal macrophage markers indicative of their origin and phenotype, which may be useful in other degeneration models and human specimens.
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