Microglial cells constitute the resident immune cell population of the mammalian central nervous system. One striking feature of these cells is their highly dynamic nature under both normal and pathological brain conditions. The highly branched processes of resting microglia display a constitutive mobility and undergo rapid directional movement towards sites of acute tissue disruption. Microglia can be converted by a large number of different stimuli to a chronically activated state by signaling through both purinergic and Toll-like receptor systems, among others. Recent work has uncovered some of the mechanisms underlying microglia dynamics and shed new light into the functional significance of this enigmatic member of the glial cell family.
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