Almost no neurological disease exists without microglial activation. Microglia exert a pivotal role in the maintenance of the central nervous system and its response to external and internal insults. Microglia have traditionally been classified as, in the healthy central nervous system, “resting”, with branched morphology system and, as a response to disease, “activated”, with amoeboid morphology; as a response to diseases but this distinction is now outmoded. The most devastating disease that hits the brain is cancer, in particular glioblastoma. Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive glioma with high invasiveness and little chance of being surgically removed. During tumor onset, many brain alterations are present and microglia have a major role because the tumor itself changes microglia from the pro-inflammatory state to the anti-inflammatory and protects the tumor from an immune intervention.
What are the determinants of these changes in the behavior of the microglia? In this review, we survey and discuss the role of sphingolipids in microglia activation in the progression of brain tumors, with a particular focus on glioblastoma.
Keywords: Ceramide, inflammation, ganglioside, brain tumor, microglia-tumor interaction, microglia activation
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