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Microglia are the macrophages of the brain and spinal cord and act as an immune defense in the central nervous system (CNS). Due to the shared lineage of microglia and macrophages, many markers are common to both cell types. This guide presents commonly-used microglial markers, with a particular focus on the new microglial-specific marker, TMEM119.
TMEM119 is a cell-surface protein and a specific microglial marker for both mouse and human. Unlike other microglial markers, this marker has the advantage that is isn’t expressed by macrophages or other immune or neural cell types.
Mouse brain tissue sections stained with anti-TMEM119 (green) (ab209064).
Choosing a TMEM119 antibody:
|Required species reactivity||Required application||Suggested product|
|Mouse||Immunohistochemistry||Anti-TMEM119 antibody [28-3] - Microglial marker (ab209064)|
|Mouse||Flow cytometry||Anti-TMEM119 antibody [106-6] - Microglial marker (ab210405)|
CD11b and CD45
A combination of CD11b and CD45 labeling can be used to distinguish microglia from macrophages. Resting microglia are CD11bhi, CD45low, whereas macrophages are CD11bhi, CD45hi.
Mouse tissue (Eo771 breast cancer) stained with anti-CD11b (green) (ab133357).
Recombinant anti-CD45 antibody: ab208022
Ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba1) is a microglial and macrophage-specific calcium-binding protein that is involved with the membrane ruffling and phagocytosis in activated microglia.
CX3CR1 is the fractalkine receptor and is found on the surface of both microglia and macrophages in the CNS where it responds to CX3CL1 (fractalkine) secreted by neurons.