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Eur J Neurosci. 1991 Oct;3(11):1155-1164.

Cytotoxic Effect of Brain Macrophages on Developing Neurons.

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INSERM U.114, Chaire de Neuropharmacologie, Collège de France, 11 place Marcelin Berthelot, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Brain macrophages are transiently present in different regions of the central nervous system during development or in the course of tissue remodelling following various types of injuries. To investigate the influence of these phagocytes on neuronal growth and survival, brain macrophages stemming from the cerebral cortex of rat embryos were added to neuronal primary cultures. A neurotoxic effect of brain macrophages was demonstrated by the reduction of the number of neurons bearing neurites within two days of contact between the two cell types. Neuronal death and phagocytosis were also directly observed in video recordings of living cultures. This toxicity involved the production by brain macrophages of reactive oxygen intermediates, as shown by the protective effect of catalase, a scavenger of H2O2. In addition, the respiratory bursts of brain macrophages were stimulated in the presence of neurons. These results suggest that brain macrophages could favour the appearance of neuroregressive events which occur either during neurogenesis or in neurodegenerative diseases, implying intracerebral recruitment of mononuclear phagocytes.


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