Intercellular (mis)communication in neurodegenerative disease

Neuron. 2012 Mar 8;73(5):886-901. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.02.017.


Neurodegenerative diseases have been intensively studied, but a comprehensive understanding of their pathogenesis remains elusive. An increasing body of evidence suggests that non-cell-autonomous processes play critical roles during the initiation and spatiotemporal progression or propagation of the dominant pathology. Here, we review findings highlighting the importance of pathological cell-cell communication in neurodegenerative disease. We focus primarily on the accumulating evidence suggesting dysfunctional crosstalk between neurons and astroglia, neurons and innate immune system cells, as well as cellular processes leading to transmission of pathogenic proteins between cells. Insights into the complex intercellular perturbations underlying neurodegeneration will enhance our efforts to develop effective therapeutic approaches for preventing or reversing symptomatic progression in this devastating class of human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / pathology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology