Microglia are active players in regulating synaptic development and plasticity in the brain. However, how these cells influence the normal functioning of synapses is largely unknown. In this study, we characterized the effects of pharmacological depletion of microglia, achieved by administration of PLX5622, on hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses of adult mice. Following microglial depletion, we observed a reduction of spontaneous and evoked glutamatergic activity associated with a decrease of dendritic spine density. We also observed the appearance of immature synaptic features accompanied by higher levels of plasticity. In addition, microglia depleted mice showed a deficit in the acquisition of the Novel Object Recognition task. Remarkably, microglial repopulation after PLX5622 withdrawal was associated with the recovery of hippocampal synapses and learning functions. Altogether, these data demonstrate that microglia contribute to normal synaptic functioning in the adult brain and that their removal induces reversible changes in synaptic organization and activity of glutamatergic synapses.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience