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Temporal Single-Cell Atlas of Non-Neuronal Retinal Cells Reveals Dynamic, Coordinated Multicellular Responses to Central Nervous System Injury

By March 15, 2023No Comments

Non-neuronal cells are key to the complex cellular interplay that follows central nervous system insult. To understand this interplay, we generated a single-cell atlas of immune, glial and retinal pigment epithelial cells from adult mouse retina before and at multiple time points after axonal transection. We identified rare subsets in naive retina, including interferon (IFN)-response glia and border-associated macrophages, and delineated injury-induced changes in cell composition, expression programs and interactions. Computational analysis charted a three-phase multicellular inflammatory cascade after injury. In the early phase, retinal macroglia and microglia were reactivated, providing chemotactic signals concurrent with infiltration of CCR2+ monocytes from the circulation. These cells differentiated into macrophages in the intermediate phase, while an IFN-response program, likely driven by microglia-derived type I IFN, was activated across resident glia. The late phase indicated inflammatory resolution. Our findings provide a framework to decipher cellular circuitry, spatial relationships and molecular interactions following tissue injury.