Cellular pathology of Parkinson's disease: astrocytes, microglia and inflammation

Cell Tissue Res. 2004 Oct;318(1):149-61. doi: 10.1007/s00441-004-0944-0. Epub 2004 Aug 24.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a frequent neurological disorder of the basal ganglia, which is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons mainly in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). Inflammatory processes have been shown to be associated with the pathogenesis of PD. Activated microglia, as well as to a lesser extent reactive astrocytes, are found in the area associated with cell loss, possibly contributing to the inflammatory process by the release of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins or cytokines. Further deleterious factors released by activated microglia or astrocytes are reactive oxygen species. On the other hand, they may mediate neuroprotective properties by the release of trophic factors or the uptake of glutamate. In this review, we will discuss the different aspects of activated glial cells and potential mechanisms that mediate or protect against cell loss in PD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Encephalitis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / immunology*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*