Soldiers of the nervous system: microglia in surveillance, offense and defense (Nova Publishers)

Chapter · January 2012with43 Reads


    One of the least studied cell type in terms of neurodevelopmental pathways in the brain is the microglia. Depending on the region of the brain, the numbers of microglia can range from 5% to 20%. Recent findings have suggested that microglia serves a much more important role than phagocytosis. Microglia are not static cells, but rather constantly perform the important role of immune surveillance in the nervous system. Having its source in the hematopoietic system, microglia find their way to the embryonic brain during development and contribute to the architecture of the developing nervous system. However, dysregulation of microglial function results in developmental neuropathogenesis in the embryo and later during adulthood, can be a significant contributor to neuropathogenesis. Recent advances in imaging have revealed important findings related to the surveillance functions of microglia and will be discussed in this chapter. As well, pharmacotherapeutics aimed at regulating microglia as well as the disadvantages of blocking microglial function during neuropathogenesis will also be discussed. Finally, the contribution of microglia to regeneration and brain repair is an important feature that is also addressed.