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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Feb;15(1):101-7.

Phagocytosis in the developing CNS: more than clearing the corpses.

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Biologie des Interactions Neurone-glie, INSERM U.495, IFR 70, UPMC, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, 47 boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France.


Cell corpses generated during CNS development are eliminated through phagocytosis performed by a variety of cells, including mesenchyme-derived macrophages and microglia, or glial cells originating in the neurogenic ectoderm. Mounting evidence indicates that in different species, phagocytes not only clear cell corpses but also engulf still-living neural cells or axons, and thereby promote cell death or axon pruning. Knowledge of the mechanisms of corpse recognition by engulfing cells provides molecular signals to this new role for phagocytes. These observations support a conserved and instructive role for phagocytosis in the execution of regressive events during neurogenesis.

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