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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2013, Article ID 627325, 9 pages
Review Article

Microglia: An Active Player in the Regulation of Synaptic Activity

Department of Pharmacological Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8651, USA

Received 26 May 2013; Revised 5 September 2013; Accepted 19 September 2013

Academic Editor: Brian MacVicar

Copyright © 2013 Kyungmin Ji et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Synaptic plasticity is critical for elaboration and adaptation in the developing and developed brain. It is well established that astrocytes play an important role in the maintenance of what has been dubbed “the tripartite synapse”. Increasing evidence shows that a fourth cell type, microglia, is critical to this maintenance as well. Microglia are the resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS). Because of their well-characterized inflammatory functions, research has primarily focused on their innate immune properties. The role of microglia in the maintenance of synapses in development and in homeostasis is not as well defined. A number of significant findings have shed light on the critical role of microglia at the synapse. It is becoming increasingly clear that microglia play a seminal role in proper synaptic development and elimination.