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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2009 Jun;4(2):227-43. doi: 10.1007/s11481-008-9142-2. Epub 2008 Dec 4.

Imaging microglial activation during neuroinflammation and Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Microglial activation is an important pathogenic component of neurodegenerative disease processes. This state of increased inflammation is associated not only with neurotoxic consequences but also neuroprotective effects, e.g., phagocytosis and clearance of amyloid in Alzheimer's disease. In addition, activation of microglia appears to be one of the major mechanisms of amyloid clearance following active or passive immunotherapy. Imaging techniques may provide a minimally invasive tool to elucidate the complexities and dynamics of microglial function and dysfunction in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Imaging microglia in vivo in live subjects by confocal or two/multiphoton microscopy offers the advantage of studying these cells over time in their native environment. Imaging microglia in human subjects by positron emission tomography scanning with translocator protein-18 kDa ligands can offer a measure of the inflammatory process and a means of detecting progression of disease and efficacy of therapeutics over time.

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