Microglia-Neuron Communication in Epilepsy

Glia. 2017 Jan;65(1):5-18. doi: 10.1002/glia.23006. Epub 2016 May 18.


Epilepsy has remained a significant social concern and financial burden globally. Current therapeutic strategies are based primarily on neurocentric mechanisms that have not proven successful in at least a third of patients, raising the need for novel alternative and complementary approaches. Recent evidence implicates glial cells and neuroinflammation in the pathogenesis of epilepsy with the promise of targeting these cells to complement existing strategies. Specifically, microglial involvement, as a major inflammatory cell in the epileptic brain, has been poorly studied. In this review, we highlight microglial reaction to experimental seizures, discuss microglial control of neuronal activities, and propose the functions of microglia during acute epileptic phenotypes, delayed neurodegeneration, and aberrant neurogenesis. Future research that would help fill in the current gaps in our knowledge includes epilepsy-induced alterations in basic microglial functions, neuro-microglial interactions during chronic epilepsy, and microglial contribution to developmental seizures. Studying the role of microglia in epilepsy could inform therapies to better alleviate the disease. GLIA 2016;65:5-18.

Keywords: epilepsy; kainic acid; microglia; pilocarpine; seizures.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology