Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Joseph LoTurco; Gulcan Akgul

Honors Major

Physiology and Neurobiology


Animal Experimentation and Research | Biology | Cancer Biology | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Developmental Biology | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Microglia are the macrophages of the brain and spinal cord, playing an important role in the immune response to disease states of the nervous system. This study conducts an investigation on the activity of microglia in response to low grade neuroepithelial tumors. Using mouse models and microglial markers, a qualitative and quantitative analysis of microglia activation, migration, and invasion within the brain cortex during early stages of tumor development was conducted. It was found that the presence of a low grade neuroepithelial tumor in the cortex of one hemisphere of the brain causes significant microglia activation in comparison to the cortical tissue of the healthy hemisphere of that same brain. However, the density of the microglia, indicating their migration and proliferation, did not significantly differ between the two hemispheres. Analysis of microglia interactions with neurons was also conducted to determine the implications of increased microglia activation surrounding the low grade neuroepithelial tumor. Synaptic engulfment could be the cause of the epileptogenicity typically associated with these tumors. We found that the density of microglia wrapping around neurons does not increase significantly in the region of tumor growth, however, more studies will need to be conducted to quantify synaptic connections in the region.