Inflammatory aspects of Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative disorders

J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 May;13(4):359-69. doi: 10.3233/jad-2008-13402.


Alzheimer and a number of other neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the presence of reactive microglia and reactive astrocytes in association with the lesions. The classic view that microglia exist primarily in either a resting or activated state needs to be broadened in view of recent results. Resting microglia are in constant activity sampling their surround. Activated microglia may be pro-inflammatory, releasing inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory mediators, or anti-inflammatory, promoting the healing process. There is evidence that microglial phagocytosis is more powerful in the anti-inflammatory state. Activated astrocytes also have pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties. In the pro-inflammatory state they release inflammatory cytokines. In the anti-inflammatory state they release various growth factors. In AD and other neurodegenerative diseases, both microglia and astrocytes are in a pro-inflammatory state. From a therapeutic point of view it is desirable to find methods of tipping the balance towards an anti-inflammatory state for both types of glia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloidosis / metabolism
  • Amyloidosis / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • Synucleins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Synucleins