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Acta Neuropathol. 2003 Dec;106(6):518-26. Epub 2003 Sep 25.

Distribution of major histocompatibility complex class II-positive microglia and cytokine profile of Parkinson's disease brains.

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Department of Neurology, Okazaki City Hospital, 3-1 Goshoai, Kouryuuji-cho, Okazaki, Aichi 444-8553, Japan.


There are numerous observations confirming that microglia expressing major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules are associated with the central nervous system (CNS) in aging and pathological conditions. In this study, we investigated the distribution of MHC class II-positive microglia in Parkinson's disease (PD) brains. The number of MHC class II-positive microglia in the substantia nigra (SN) and putamen increased as the neuronal degeneration of the SN proceeded. These cells were also ICAM-1 (CD54) and LFA-1 (CD11a) positive. The number of activated microglia not only in the SN and putamen but also in the hippocampus, transentorhinal cortex, cingulate cortex and temporal cortex in PD was significantly higher than that in the normal control. Most activated microglia persisted regardless of the presence or absence of Lewy bodies. They were frequently associated not only with alpha-synuclein-positive Lewy neurites, but also with TH-16-positive dopaminergic and WH-3-positive serotonergic neurites, as well as MAP-2- and SMI-32-positive neurites. These activated microglia were also positive for TNF-alpha and interleukin-6, which are known to have a neuroprotective function. We conclude that MHC class II-positive microglia are a sensitive index of neuropathological change and are actively associated with damaged neurons and neurites.

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