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Microsc Res Tech. 2001 Jul 15;54(2):106-13.

Role of microglia in glioma biology.

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Neuro-oncology Laboratory, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.


Microglia, a type of differentiated tissue macrophage, are considered to be the most plastic cell population of the central nervous system (CNS). In response to pathological conditions, resting microglia undergo a stereotypic activation process and become capable of phagocytosis, antigen presentation, and lymphocyte activation. Considering their immune effector function, it is not surprising to see microglia accumulation in almost every CNS disease process, including malignant brain tumors or malignant gliomas. Although the function of these cells in CNS inflammatory processes is being studied, their role in malignant glioma biology remains unclear. On one hand, microglia may represent a CNS anti-tumor response, which is inactivated by local secretion of immunosuppressive factors by glioma cells. On the other hand, taking into account that microglia are capable of secreting a variety of immunomodulatory cytokines, it is possible that they are attracted by gliomas to promote tumor growth. A better understanding of microglia-glioma interaction will be helpful in designing novel immune-based therapies against these fatal tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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