, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 66-78
Date: 26 Feb 2012

Roles of Activated Microglia in Hypoxia Induced Neuroinflammation in the Developing Brain and the Retina

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Amoeboid microglial cells (AMCs) in the developing brain display surface receptors and antigens shared by the monocyte-derived tissue macrophages. Activation of AMCs in the perinatal brain has been associated with periventricular white matter damage in hypoxic-ischemic conditions. The periventricular white matter, where the AMCs preponderate, is selectively vulnerable to hypoxia as manifested by death of premyelinating oligodendrocytes and degeneration of axons leading to neonatal mortality and long-term neurodevelopmental deficits. AMCs respond vigorously to hypoxia by producing excess amounts of inflammatory cytokines e.g. the tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) along with glutamate, nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species which collectively cause oligodendrocyte death, axonal degeneration as well as disruption of the immature blood brain barrier. A similar phenomenon is observed in the hypoxic developing cerebellum in which activated AMCs induced Purkinje neuronal death through production of TNF-α and IL-1β via their respective receptors. Hypoxia is also implicated in retinopathy of prematurity in which activation of AMCs has been shown to cause retinal ganglion cell death through production of TNF-α and IL-1β and NO. Because AMCs play a pivotal role in hypoxic injuries in the developing brain affecting both neurons and oligodendrocytes, a fuller understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of microglial activation under such conditions would be desirable for designing of a novel therapeutic strategy for management of hypoxic damage.