Innate immunity: the missing link in neuroprotection and neurodegeneration?

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Mar;3(3):216-27. doi: 10.1038/nrn752.


Innate immunity was previously thought to be a nonspecific immunological programme that was engaged by peripheral organs to maintain homeostasis after stress and injury. Emerging evidence indicates that this highly organized response also takes place in the central nervous system. Through the recognition of neuronal fingerprints, the long-term induction of the innate immune response and its transition to an adaptive form might be central to the pathophysiology and aetiology of neurodegenerative disorders. Paradoxically, this response also protects neurons by favouring remyelination and trophic support afforded by glial cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Infections / immunology
  • Central Nervous System Infections / virology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Nerve Regeneration / immunology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors


  • Cytokines
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Toll-Like Receptors