Single-cell transcriptome analyses reveal unique microglia types associated with proliferative retinopathy

Zhiping Liu, Huidong Shi, Jiean Xu, Qiuhua Yang, Qian Ma, Xiaoxiao Mao, Zhimin Xu, Yaqi Zhou, Qingen Da, Yongfeng Cai, David Jr Fulton, Zheng Dong, Akrit Sodhi, Ruth B Caldwell, Yuqing Huo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Pathological angiogenesis is a major cause of irreversible blindness in individuals of all age groups with proliferative retinopathy (PR). Mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) within neovascular areas contribute to aberrant retinal angiogenesis. Due to their cellular heterogeneity, defining the roles of MP subsets in PR onset and progression has been challenging. Here, we aimed to investigate the heterogeneity of microglia associated with neovascularization and characterize the transcriptional profiles and metabolic pathways of pro-angiogenic microglia in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy (OIR). Using transcriptional single-cell sorting, we comprehensively map all microglia populations in retinas of room air (RA) and OIR mice. We unveil several unique types of PR-associated microglia (PRAM) and identify markers, signaling pathways, and regulons associated with these cells. Among these microglia subpopulations, we found a highly proliferative microglia subset with high self-renewal capacity and a hyper-metabolic microglia subset that expresses high levels of activating microglia markers, glycolytic enzymes and pro-angiogenic insulin-like growth factor 1. Immunohistochemical staining shows these PRAMs were spatially located within or around neovascular (NV) tufts. These unique microglia-types have the potential to promote retinal angiogenesis, which may have important implications for future treatment of PR and other pathological ocular angiogenesis-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere160940
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number23
Early online dateOct 20 2022
StatePublished - Dec 8 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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