Demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis are chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases with a heterogeneous clinical presentation and course. Both the adaptive and the innate immune systems have been suggested to contribute to their pathogenesis and recovery. In this review, we discuss the role of the innate immune system in mediating demyelinating diseases. In particular, we provide an overview of the anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory functions of dendritic cells, mast cells, natural killer (NK) cells, NK-T cells, γδ T cells, microglial cells, and astrocytes. We emphasize the interaction of astroctyes with the immune system and how this interaction relates to the demyelinating pathologies. Given the pivotal role of the innate immune system, it is possible that targeting these cells may provide an effective therapeutic approach for demyelinating diseases.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.