Microglia are activated in response to a number of different pathological states within the CNS including injury, ischemia, and infection. Microglial activation results in their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α. While release of these factors is typically intended to prevent further damage to CNS tissue, they may also be toxic to neurons and other glial cells. Mounting evidence indicates that chronic microglial activation may also contribute to the development and progression of neurodegenerative disorders. Unfortunately, determining the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in these disorders has been complicated by their dual roles in neuroprotection and neurodegeneration. The purpose of this review is to summarize current understanding of the involvement of cytokines in neurodegenerative disorders and their potential signaling mechanisms in this context. Taken together, recent findings suggest that microglial activation and pro-inflammatory cytokines merit interest as targets in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
Published by Elsevier Inc.