, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 99-132
Date: 30 Mar 2010

Role of Cytokines as Mediators and Regulators of Microglial Activity in Inflammatory Demyelination of the CNS

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As the resident innate immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), microglia fulfil a critical role in maintaining tissue homeostasis and in directing and eliciting molecular responses to CNS damage. The human disease Multiple Sclerosis and animal models of inflammatory demyelination are characterized by a complex interplay between degenerative and regenerative processes, many of which are regulated and mediated by microglia. Cellular communication between microglia and other neural and immune cells is controlled to a large extent by the activity of cytokines. Here we review the role of cytokines as mediators and regulators of microglial activity in inflammatory demyelination, highlighting their importance in potentiating cell damage, promoting neuroprotection and enhancing cellular repair in a context-dependent manner.