Microglia, immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), are important for tissue development and maintenance and are implicated in CNS disease, but we lack understanding of human fetal microglia development. Single-cell gene expression and bulk chromatin profiles of microglia at 9 to 18 gestational weeks (GWs) of human fetal development were generated. Microglia were heterogeneous at all studied GWs. Microglia start to mature during this developmental period and increasingly resemble adult microglia with CNS-surveilling properties. Chromatin accessibility increases during development with associated transcriptional networks reflective of adult microglia. Thus, during early fetal development, microglia progress toward a more mature, immune-sensing competent phenotype, and this might render the developing human CNS vulnerable to environmental perturbations during early pregnancy.
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