Innate sensing of mechanical properties of brain tissue by microglia

External organic or inorganic objects (foreign bodies) that are inadvertently or purposefully placed in the human or animal tissues can trigger local tissue responses that aim at the elimination and/or segregation of foreign bodies from the tissue. The foreign body response (FBR) may have major implications for neurodegeneration associated with the formation of aberrant protein-based aggregates or plaques. The distinct physical features of the plaques, including high rigidity and varying surface properties, may trigger microglial mechanosensing of the plaque as a foreign body. The microglial FBR may have a dual function by promoting and/or suppressing the plaque driven neurodegeneration. Microglial contact with the plaque may trigger inflammatory activation of microglia and support microglia-driven neuronal damage. Conversely, persistent microglial activation may trigger the formation of a microglia-supported cell barrier that segregates and compacts the plaques thus preventing further plaque-induced damage to healthy neurons.