Microglia are the brain's resident macrophages, which guide various developmental processes crucial for brain maturation, activity, and plasticity. Microglial progenitors enter the telencephalic wall by the 4th postconceptional week and colonise the fetal brain in a manner that spatiotemporally tracks key neurodevelopmental processes in humans. However, much of what we know about how microglia shape neurodevelopment comes from rodent studies. Multiple differences exist between human and rodent microglia warranting further focus on the human condition, particularly as microglia are emerging as critically involved in the pathological signature of various cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders. In this article, we review the evidence supporting microglial involvement in basic neurodevelopmental processes by focusing on the human species. We next concur on the neuropathological evidence demonstrating whether and how microglia contribute to the aetiology of two neurodevelopmental disorders: autism spectrum conditions and schizophrenia. Next, we highlight how recent technologies have revolutionised our understanding of microglial biology with a focus on how these tools can help us elucidate at unprecedented resolution the links between microglia and neurodevelopmental disorders. We conclude by reviewing which current treatment approaches have shown most promise towards targeting microglia in neurodevelopmental disorders and suggest novel avenues for future consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-683
Number of pages21
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number5
Early online date1 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


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