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Trends Neurosci. 2007 Oct;30(10):527-35. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

Neurotransmitter receptors on microglia.

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Cell Signalling Laboratory, Department of Neuroinflammation, Institute of Neurology, University College London, 1 Wakefield Street, London WC1N 1PJ, UK.


Microglia are the intrinsic immune cells of the brain and express chemokine and cytokine receptors that interact with the peripheral immune cells. Recent studies have indicated that microglia also respond to the brain's classical signalling substances, the neurotransmitters. Here, we review the evidence for the expression of neurotransmitter receptors on microglia and the consequences of this receptor activation for microglial behaviour. It is evident that neurotransmitters instruct microglia to perform distinct types of responses, such as triggering an inflammatory cascade or acquiring a neuroprotective phenotype. Understanding how microglia respond to different neurotransmitters will thus have important implications for controlling the reactivity of these cells in acute injury, as well as for treating chronic neurodegenerative diseases.

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