Neuroscience

Faulty molecular master switch may contribute to AMD

A signaling pathway controlled by transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) could be involved in the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National ...

Neuroscience

A new hope in treating neurodegenerative disease

Korean researchers have identified the inhibition of autophagy in microglia, brain immune cells. It is expected to help develop treatments for Alzheimer's disease which occur due to the inhibition of autophagy.

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Immune cell defect stimulates Alzheimer's

Defects in the gene TREM2 are linked to increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. The gene is required to activate immune cells called microglia in the brain, which help to eliminate the neurotoxic deposits that are typical ...

Neuroscience

Microglia transmit pain to the brain during stress

Research in male mice published in JNeurosci demonstrates activation of microglia in the spinal cord is responsible for increased pain sensitivity in response to stress.

Genetics

How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells

Two types of cells are active in the brain: nerve cells and glial cells. Glial cells have long been regarded primarily as supportive cells, but researchers increasingly recognize that they play an active role in the communication ...

Neuroscience

Classifying brain microglia: Which are good and which are bad?

Microglia are known to be important to brain function. The immune cells have been found to protect the brain from injury and infection and are critical during brain development, helping circuits wire properly. They also seem ...

Cancer

Microglia react distinctively during inflammation

The NorLux Neuro-Oncology Laboratory at LIH's Department of Oncology conducts research on brain diseases, with a special emphasis on glioma biology, drug resistance and systems approaches. Within this research unit, Dr. Alessandro ...

Medical research

Researchers hope to be able to replace dysfunctional brain cells

A new study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet supports the theory that replacement of dysfunctional immune cells in the brain has therapeutic potential for neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer's disease. ...

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Microglia

Microglia are a type of glial cell that are the resident macrophages of the brain and spinal cord, and thus act as the first and main form of active immune defense in the central nervous system (CNS). Microglia constitute 20% of the total glial cell population within the brain.[citation needed] Microglia (and astrocytes) are distributed in large non-overlapping regions throughout the brain and spinal cord. Microglia are constantly scavenging the CNS for damaged neurons, plaques, and infectious agents. The brain and spinal cord are considered "immune privileged" organs in that they are separated from the rest of the body by a series of endothelial cells known as the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most infections from reaching the vulnerable nervous tissue. In the case where infectious agents are directly introduced to the brain or cross the blood-brain barrier, microglial cells must react quickly to decrease inflammation and destroy the infectious agents before they damage the sensitive neural tissue. Due to the unavailability of antibodies from the rest of the body (few antibodies are small enough to cross the blood brain barrier), microglia must be able to recognize foreign bodies, swallow them, and act as antigen-presenting cells activating T-cells. Since this process must be done quickly to prevent potentially fatal damage, microglia are extremely sensitive to even small pathological changes in the CNS. They achieve this sensitivity in part by having unique potassium channels that respond to even small changes in extracellular potassium.

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