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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992 Jan-Apr;17(1):61-74.

Brain macrophages: evaluation of microglia and their functions.

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  • 1Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1241.


There is now evidence approaching, if not having already surpassed, overwhelming in support of microglial cells as macrophages. Consistent with this cellular identity, they appear to arise from monocytes in developing brain where amoeboid microglia function in removing cell death-associated debris and in regulating gliogenesis. In normal adult tissue, ramified microglial cells with down-regulated macrophage functional properties may serve a constitutive role in cleansing the extracellular fluid. Under all conditions of brain injury, microglia appear to activate and convert into active macrophages. Activated and reactive microglia participate in inflammation, removal of cellular debris and wound-healing, the latter through regulation of gliosis in scar formation and a potential contribution to neural regeneration and neovascularization. In the activated state, microglia also express MHC's and, thus, may function in antigen presentation and lymphocyte activation for CNS immune responses. As uniquely adapted tissue resident macrophages within the CNS, microglia serve a variety of functional roles over the lifespan of this tissue. These cells may therefore be involved in or contribute to some disease states; such has been indicated in multiple sclerosis and AIDS dementia complex.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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