Microglia as immune effectors of the central nervous system: Expression of cytokines and chemokines

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Microglia, one of three glial cell types in the central nervous system (CNS), play an important role as resident immunocompetent and phagocytic cells in the CNS in the event of injury and disease. It was del Rio Hortega in 1927 who determined that microglia belong to a distinct glial cell type in the CNS, apart from astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Since the 1970s, there has been wide recognition that microglia are immune effectors in the CNS that respond to pathological conditions and participate in the initiation and progression of neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and acquired immune deficiency syndrome dementia complex by releasing potentially cytotoxic molecules such as pro-inflammatory cytokines, reactive oxygen intermediates, proteinases and complement proteins. There is also evidence to suggest that the microglia are capable of secreting neurotrophic or neuron survival factors on activation through inflammation or injury. In the present review, the current status of knowledge on biology and immunology of microglia is reported. (Clin. Exp. Neuroimmunol. doi: 10.1111/j.1759-1961.2010.00007.x, 2010)

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