Background: Microglia are the resident immunocompetent cells of the CNS and also
constitute a unique cell type that contributes to neural network homeostasis and function.
Understanding microglia cell-signaling not only will reveal their diverse functions but also will help
to identify pharmacological and non-pharmacological tools to modulate the activity of these cells.
Methods: We undertook a search of bibliographic databases for peer-reviewed research literature to
identify microglial activators and their cell-specificity. We also looked for their effects on neural
network function and dysfunction.
Results: We identified several pharmacological targets to modulate microglial function, which are
more or less specific (with the proper control experiments). We also identified pharmacological
targets that would require the development of new potent and specific modulators. We identified a
wealth of evidence about the participation of microglia in neural network function and their
alterations in pathological conditions.
Conclusion: The identification of specific microglia-activating signals provides experimental tools to
modulate the activity of this heterogeneous cell type in order to evaluate its impact on other
components of the nervous system, and it also helps to identify therapeutic approaches to ease some
pathological conditions related to microglial dysfunction.