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J Neurosci Res. 2008 May 15;86(7):1434-47.

Molecular basis for detection of invading pathogens in the brain.

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Institute of Neuropathology, Universitaetsspital Z├╝rich, Zuerich, Switzerland.


Classical immunology textbooks have described the central nervous system as an immune-privileged site, i.e., as devoid of inflammatory and host-vs.-graft immunoreactions. This view has been refined, since we now know that hematopoietic cells infiltrate the CNS under certain circumstances and that CNS-resident cells are capable of launching an innate immune response. Microglia cells express an extensive repertoire of pattern-recognition receptors and act as sentinels surveilling the CNS for possible damage or infection. Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the brain, and they are capable of launching a strong supportive innate immune response. Novel findings show that both astrocytes and, surprisingly, even neurons express pattern-recognition receptors. Activation of these receptors leads to a functional response, indicating that cells other than microglia are capable of initiating a primary innate immune response against CNS-invading pathogens. Here, we put these findings into context with what has been learned from recent in vitro and in vivo experiments about the initiation of an innate immune response in the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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