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Brain Res. 2007 Jul 23;1159:8-17. Epub 2007 May 3.

The function of microglia, either neuroprotection or neurotoxicity, is determined by the equilibrium among factors released from activated microglia in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, MD10, 4 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597, Singapore.


Opposing functions of activated microglia, namely neuroprotection or neurotrophy versus neurodestruction or neurotoxicity, have been observed in a number of experimental models of neurotrauma and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the mechanism(s) involved in the determination of which function activated microglia execute under a given set of conditions still remains to be elucidated. Our current in vitro study has revealed that a neuroprotective/neurotrophic or a neurodestructive/neurotoxic microglial function may be configured by the equilibrium among various microglial factors released into the microenvironment. When NSC-34 neurons were treated with lower concentrations of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV-2 microglial conditioned medium (LPS-BVCM), viability of the NSC-34 neurons increased, outgrowth of neuronal processes was promoted, and the formation of 2,5-hexanedione-induced aggregates was prevented. However, when NSC-34 neurons were treated with higher concentrations of the same LPS-BVCM, neuronal viability was reduced, apoptosis was induced and outgrowth of neuronal processes was prevented. Measurement of the cytokines tumor necrotic factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), and IL-6 in the LPS-BVCM has shown that the upregulation in expression for each cytokine varied both temporally and quantitatively. It is postulated that an alteration in the concentration of the LPS-BVCM might significantly affect the functional balance of microglial factors in the microenvironment with a resultant different microglial function.

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