Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an under-recognized public health threat. Even mild brain injury, or concussions, may lead to long-term neurologic impairment. Microglia play a fundamental role in the development and progression of this subsequent neurologic impairment. Despite this, a microglia-specific injury signature has yet to be identified. In the current study we hypothesized that TBI-associated microglia would adopt longitudinal changes in their transcriptional profile associated with pathways linked to the development of motor, cognitive, and behavioral disorders. C57BL/6 mice underwent TBI via a controlled cortical impact and were followed longitudinally. FACSorted microglia from TBI mice were subjected to RNA-sequencing at 7, 30, and 90 days post-injury. We identified 4 major patterns of gene expression corresponding to the host defense response, synaptic potentiation, lipid remodeling, and membrane polarization. In particular, significant upregulation of genes involved in long-term synaptic potentiation including Ptpn5, Shank3, and Sqstm1 were observed offering new insight into a previously unknown role of microglia in the weakening of synaptic efficacy between neurons after brain injury.
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