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J Neurochem. 2011 Sep;118(5):680-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07371.x. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Neurochemokines: a menage a trois providing new insights on the functions of chemokines in the central nervous system.

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1
Institut de la Vision UMRS INSERM-UPMC 968, Paris, France. william.rostene@inserm.fr

Abstract

Recent observations suggest that besides their role in the immune system, chemokines have important functions in the brain. There is a great line of evidence to suggest that chemokines are a unique class of neurotransmitters/neuromodulators, which regulate many biological aspects as diverse as neurodevelopment, neuroinflammation and synaptic transmission. In physiopathological conditions, many chemokines are synthesized in activated astrocytes and microglial cells, suggesting their involvement in brain defense mechanisms. However, when evoking chemokine functions in the nervous system, it is important to make a distinction between resting conditions and various pathological states including inflammatory diseases, autoimmune or neurodegenerative disorders in which chemokine functions have been extensively studied. We illustrate here the emergent concept of the neuromodulatory/neurotransmitter activities of neurochemokines and their potential role as a regulatory alarm system and as a group of messenger molecules for the crosstalk between neurons and cells from their surrounding microenvironment. In this deliberately challenging review, we provide novel hypotheses on the role of these subtle messenger molecules in brain functions leading to the evidence that previous dogmas concerning chemokines should be reconsidered.

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