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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Apr;48(2):234-9. Epub 2005 Jan 15.

Microglia and neuroprotection: implications for Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, 32610-0244, USA.


The first part of this paper summarizes some of the key observations from experimental work in animals that support a role of microglia as neuroprotective cells after acute neuronal injury. These studies point towards an important role of neuronal-microglial crosstalk in the facilitation of neuroprotection. Conceptually, injured neurons are thought to generate rescue signals that trigger microglial activation and, in turn, activated microglia produce trophic or other factors that help damaged neurons recover from injury. Against this background, the second part of this paper summarizes recent work from postmortem studies conducted in humans that have revealed the occurrence of senescent, or dystrophic, microglial cells in the aged and Alzheimer's disease brain. These findings suggest that microglial cells become increasingly dysfunctional with advancing age and that a loss of microglial cell function may involve a loss of neuroprotective properties that could contribute to the development of aging-related neurodegeneration.

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