Autophagy enables microglia to engage amyloid plaques and prevents microglial senescence

Insup Choi, Minghui Wang, Seungyeul Yoo, Peng Xu, Steven P. Seegobin, Xianting Li, Xian Han, Qian Wang, Junmin Peng, Bin Zhang, Zhenyu Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dysfunctional autophagy has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Previous evidence suggested disruptions of multiple stages of the autophagy-lysosomal pathway in affected neurons. However, whether and how deregulated autophagy in microglia, a cell type with an important link to AD, contributes to AD progression remains elusive. Here we report that autophagy is activated in microglia, particularly of disease-associated microglia surrounding amyloid plaques in AD mouse models. Inhibition of microglial autophagy causes disengagement of microglia from amyloid plaques, suppression of disease-associated microglia, and aggravation of neuropathology in AD mice. Mechanistically, autophagy deficiency promotes senescence-associated microglia as evidenced by reduced proliferation, increased Cdkn1a/p21Cip1, dystrophic morphologies and senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Pharmacological treatment removes autophagy-deficient senescent microglia and alleviates neuropathology in AD mice. Our study demonstrates the protective role of microglial autophagy in regulating the homeostasis of amyloid plaques and preventing senescence; removal of senescent microglia is a promising therapeutic strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-974
Number of pages12
JournalNature Cell Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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