Microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), play an important role in CNS homeostasis during development, adulthood and ageing. Their phenotype and function have been widely studied, but most studies have focused on their local interactions in the CNS. Microglia are derived from a particular developmental niche, are long-lived, locally replaced and form a significant part of the communication route between the peripheral immune system and the CNS; all these components of microglia biology contribute to maintaining homeostasis. Microglia function is tightly regulated by the CNS microenvironment, and increasing evidence suggests that disturbances, such as neurodegeneration and ageing, can have profound consequences for microglial phenotype and function. We describe the possible biological mechanisms underlying the altered threshold for microglial activation, also known as ‘microglial priming’, seen in CNS disease and ageing and consider how priming may contribute to turning immune-to-brain communication from a homeostatic pathway into a maladaptive response that contributes to symptoms and progression of diseases of the CNS.
Seminars in Immunopathology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2013
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