The Role of Glutamate and the Immune System in Organophosphate-induced CNS Damage
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Organophosphate (OP) poisoning is associated with long-lasting neurological damage, which is attributed mainly to the excessive levels of glutamate caused by the intoxication. Glutamate toxicity, however, is not specific to OP poisoning, and is linked to propagation of damage in both acute and chronic neurodegenerative conditions in the central nervous system (CNS). In addition to acute excitotoxic effects of glutamate, there is now a growing amount of evidence of its intricate immunomodulatory effects in the brain, involving both the innate and the adaptive immune systems. Moreover, it was demonstrated that immunomodulatory treatments, aimed at regulating the interaction between the resident immune cells of the brain (microglia) and the peripheral immune system, can support buffering of excessive levels of glutamate and restoration of the homeostasis. In this review, we will discuss the role of glutamate as an excitotoxic agent in the acute phase of OP poisoning, and the possible functions it may have as both a neuroprotectant and an immunomodulator in the sub-acute and chronic phases of OP poisoning. In addition, we will describe the novel immune-based neuroprotective strategies aimed at counteracting the long-term neurodegenerative effects of glutamate in the CNS.