Pan-SHIP1/2 inhibitors promote microglia effector functions essential for CNS homeostasis

Chiara Pedicone, Sandra Fernandes, Otto M. Dungan, Shawn M. Dormann, Dennis R. Viernes, Arijit A. Adhikari, Lydia B. Choi, Ebbing P. De Jong, John D. Chisholm, William G. Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We show here that both SHIP1 (Inpp5d) and its paralog SHIP2 (Inppl1) are expressed at protein level in microglia. To examine whether targeting of SHIP paralogs might influence microglial physiology and function, we tested the capacity of SHIP1-selective, SHIP2-selective and pan-SHIP1/2 inhibitors for their ability to impact on microglia proliferation, lysosomal compartment size and phagocytic function. We find that highly potent pan-SHIP1/2 inhibitors can significantly increase lysosomal compartment size, and phagocytosis of dead neurons and amyloid beta (Aβ)1-42 by microglia in vitro. We show that one of the more-potent and watersoluble pan-SHIP1/2 inhibitors, K161, can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Consistent with this, K161 increases the capacity of CNS-resident microglia to phagocytose Aâ and apoptotic neurons following systemic administration. These findings provide the first demonstration that small molecule modulation of microglia function in vivo is feasible, and suggest that dual inhibition of the SHIP1 and 2 paralogs can provide a novel means to enhance basal microglial homeostatic functions for therapeutic purposes in Alzheimer's disease and, possibly, other types of dementia where increased microglial function could be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjcs238030
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Beta-amyloid
  • Microglia
  • Phagocytosis
  • SH2-containing inositol phosphatases
  • SHIPi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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