Damage to the central nervous system (CNS) leads to cellular changes not only in the affected neurons but also in adjacent glial cells and endothelia, and frequently, to a recruitment of cells of the immune system. These cellular changes form a graded response which is a consistent feature in almost all forms of brain pathology. It appears to reflect an evolutionarily conserved program which plays an important role in the protection against infectious pathogens and the repair of the injured nervous system. Moreover, recent work in mice that are genetically deficient for different cytokines (MCSF, IL1, IL6, TNFalpha, TGFbeta1) has begun to shed light on the molecular signals that regulate this cellular response. Here we will review this work and the insights it provides about the biological function of the neuroglial activation in the injured brain.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.