Activation-induced cell death (AICD) is an active process. T and B lymphocytes undergo AICD as an auto-regulatory mechanism for the body to remove unwanted activated cells after making appropriate use of them. Recent studies have shown that brain microglia and astrocytes also undergo apoptosis upon inflammatory activation. Caspase-11 has been demonstrated to play a central role in the apoptosis of both microglia and astrocytes following inflammatory activation; inflammatory stimuli induce neuroglial apoptosis through caspases-11, -1, and -3. Thus, inflammatory signals that activate neuroglia may also initiate internal death program, in which caspases play a crucial role. Caspases may be a target for the modulation of neuroglial AICD that has implications in neurodegenerative diseases.
Keywords: apoptosis, caspase, microglia, astrocyte, nitric oxide, inflammation, signal transduction, neurodegenerative diseases
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