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Metab Brain Dis. 2015 Apr;30(2):381-92. doi: 10.1007/s11011-014-9531-6. Epub 2014 Mar 29.

The role of the microglia in acute CNS injury.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA, 94121, USA.


Microglia are considered the brain's resident immune cell involved in immune defense, immunocompetence, and phagocytosis. They maintain tissue homeostasis within the brain and spinal cord under normal condition and serves as its initial host defense system. However, when the central nervous system (CNS) faces injury, microglia respond through signaling molecules expressed or released by neighboring cells. Microglial responses are dual in nature. They induce a nonspecific immune response that may exacerbate CNS injury, especially in the acute stages, but are also essential to CNS recovery and repair. The full range of microglial mechanisms have yet to be clarified, but there is accumulating knowledge about microglial activation in acute CNS injury. Microglial responses require hours to days to fully develop, and may present a therapeutic target for intervention with a much longer window of opportunity compare to other neurological treatments. The challenge will be to find ways to selectively suppress the deleterious effects of microglial activation without compromising its beneficial functions. This review aims to provide an overview of the recent progress relating on the deleterious and beneficial effect of microglia in the setting of acute CNS injury and the potential therapeutic intervention against microglial activation to CNS injury.

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