Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Prevention of C5aR1 signaling delays microglial inflammatory polarization, favors clearance pathways and suppresses cognitive loss



Pharmacologic inhibition of C5aR1, a receptor for the complement activation proinflammatory fragment, C5a, suppressed pathology and cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease (AD) mouse models. To validate that the effect of the antagonist was specifically via C5aR1 inhibition, mice lacking C5aR1 were generated and compared in behavior and pathology. In addition, since C5aR1 is primarily expressed on cells of the myeloid lineage, and only to a lesser extent on endothelial cells and neurons in brain, gene expression in microglia isolated from adult brain at multiple ages was compared across all genotypes.


C5aR1 knock out mice were crossed to the Arctic AD mouse model, and characterized for pathology and for behavior performance in a hippocampal dependent memory task. CX3CR1GFP and CCR2RFP reporter mice were bred to C5aR1 sufficient and knockout wild type and Arctic mice to enable sorting of microglia (GFP-positive, RFP-negative) isolated from adult brain at 2, 5, 7 and 10 months of age followed by RNA-seq analysis.


A lack of C5aR1 prevented behavior deficits at 10 months, although amyloid plaque load was not altered. Immunohistochemical analysis showed no CCR2+ monocytes/macrophages near the plaques in the Arctic brain with or without C5aR1. Microglia were sorted from infiltrating monocytes (GFP and RFP-positive) for transcriptome analysis. RNA-seq analysis identified inflammation related genes as differentially expressed, with increased expression in the Arctic mice relative to wild type and decreased expression in the Arctic/C5aR1KO relative to Arctic. In addition, phagosomal-lysosomal gene expression was increased in the Arctic mice relative to wild type but further increased in the Arctic/C5aR1KO mice. A decrease in neuronal complexity was seen in hippocampus of 10 month old Arctic mice at the time that correlates with the behavior deficit, both of which were rescued in the Arctic/C5aR1KO.


These data are consistent with microglial polarization in the absence of C5aR1 signaling reflecting decreased induction of inflammatory genes and enhancement of degradation/clearance pathways, which is accompanied by preservation of CA1 neuronal complexity and hippocampal dependent cognitive function. These results provide links between microglial responses and loss of cognitive performance and, combined with the previous pharmacological approach to inhibit C5aR1 signaling, support the potential of this receptor as a novel therapeutic target for AD in humans.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View