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Single-cell transcriptomics reveals distinct inflammation-induced microglia signatures

Microglia are specialized parenchymal‐resident phagocytes of the central nervous system (CNS) that actively support, defend and modulate the neural environment. Dysfunctional microglial responses are thought to worsen CNS diseases; nevertheless, their impact during neuroinflammatory processes remains largely obscure. Here, using a combination of single‐cell RNA sequencing and multicolour flow cytometry, we comprehensively profile microglia in the brain of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)‐injected mice. By excluding the contribution of other immune CNS‐resident and peripheral cells, we show that microglia isolated from LPS‐injected mice display a global downregulation of their homeostatic signature together with an upregulation of inflammatory genes. Notably, we identify distinct microglial activated profiles under inflammatory conditions, which greatly differ from neurodegenerative disease‐associated profiles. These results provide insights into microglial heterogeneity and establish a resource for the identification of specific phenotypes in CNS disorders, such as neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.