Microglia are the resident phagocytic cells with various functions in the central nervous system, and the morphologies of microglia imply the different stages and functions. In optical nerve transection (ONT) model in the retina, the retrograde degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) induces microglial activations to a unique morphology termed "rod" microglia. A few studies described the "rod" microglia in the cortex and retina; however, the function and origin of "rod" microglia are largely unknown. In the present study, we firstly studied the temporal appearance of "rod" microglia after ONT, and found the "rod" microglia emerge at approximately 7 days after ONT and peak during 14 to 21 days. Interestingly, the number of "rod" microglia remarkably decays after 6 weeks. Secondly, the "rod" microglia eliminate the degenerating RGC debris by phagocytosis. Moreover, we found the major source of "rod" microgliosis is local proliferation rather than the infiltration of peripheral monocytes/hematopoietic stem cells. We for the first time described the appearance of "rod" retinal microglia following optic nerve transection.
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