Role of microglia in neurotrauma
- Cite this article as:
- Loane, D.J. & Byrnes, K.R. Neurotherapeutics (2010) 7: 366. doi:10.1016/j.nurt.2010.07.002
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Microglia are the primary mediators of the immune defense system of the CNS and are integral to the subsequent inflammatory response. The role of microglia in the injured CNS is under scrutiny, as research has begun to fully explore how postinjury inflammation contributes to secondary damage and recovery of function. Whether microglia are good or bad is under debate, with strong support for a dual role or differential activation of microglia. Microglia release a number of factors that modulate secondary injury and recovery after injury, including pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, nitric oxide, prostaglandins, growth factors, and Superoxide species. Here we review experimental work on the complex and varied responses of microglia in terms of both detrimental and beneficial effects. Addressed in addition are the effects of microglial activation in two examples of CNS injury: spinal cord and traumatic brain injury. Microglial activation is integral to the response of CNS tissue to injury. In that light, future research is needed to focus on clarifying the signals and mechanisms by which microglia can be guided to promote optimal functional recovery.