Microglia:Neuroprotective and Neurotrophic Cells in the Central Nervous System

Author(s): Kazuyuki Nakajima, Shinichi Kohsaka

Journal Name: Current Drug Targets - Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders
Continued as Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders-Drug Targets

Volume 4 , Issue 1 , 2004


Microglia are currently accepted as sensor cells in the central nervous system that respond to injury and brain disease.The main function of microglia is believed to be brain defense,as they are known to scavenge invading microorganisms and dead cells,and also to act as immune or immunoeffector cells. However,microglia are also thought to contribute to the onset of or to exacerbate neuronal degeneration and / or inflammation in many brain diseases by producing deleterious factors including superoxide anions,nitric oxide and inflammatory cytokines.Nonetheless,microglia have also been shown to act neuroprotectively by eliminating excess excitotoxins in the extracellular space.Moreover,there is accumulating evidence that microglia produce neurotrophic and / or neuroprotective molecules;in particular,it has been suggested that they promote neuronal survival in cases of brain injury.In general,the question of whether microglia act as neurotoxic cells or as neuroprotective cells in vivo has gained much recent attention.In this paper,we provide a review of findings indicating that the microglia are basically neurotrophic / neuroprotective cells in the nervous system.In addition,the mechanism by which neurotrophic microglia become oriented to a neurotoxic state is discussed.

Keywords: microglia, neurotoxicity, neurotrophic molecules, neuroprotection

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Article Details

Year: 2004
Page: [65 - 84]
Pages: 20
DOI: 10.2174/1568006043481284

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