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Front Immunol. 2012 May 7;3:89. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00089. eCollection 2012.

Non-identical twins - microglia and monocyte-derived macrophages in acute injury and autoimmune inflammation.

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Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot, Israel.


The brain has been commonly regarded as a "tissue behind walls." Appearance of immune cells in the brain has been taken as a sign of pathology. Moreover, since infiltrating monocyte-derived macrophages and activated resident microglia were indistinguishable by conventional means, both populations were considered together as inflammatory cells that should be mitigated. Yet, because the microglia permanently reside in the brain, attributing to them negative properties evoked an ongoing debate; why cells that are supposed to be the brain guardians acquire only destructive potential? Studies over the last two decades in the immune arena in general, and in the context of central nervous system pathology in particular, have resulted in a paradigm shift toward a more balanced appreciation of the contributions of immune cells in the context of brain maintenance and repair, and toward the recognition of distinct roles of resident microglia and infiltrating monocyte-derived macrophages.


central nervous system; microglia; monocyte-derived macrophages; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation

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