Production of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines is part of the defense system that mostly microglia and macrophages display to induce normal signaling to counteract the deleterious actions of invading pathogens in the brain. Also, redox activity in the central nervous system (CNS) constitutes an integral part of the metabolic processes needed by cells to exert their normal molecular and biochemical functions. Under normal conditions, the formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and the following oxidative activity encounter a healthy balance with immunological responses to preserve cell functions in the brain. However, under different pathological conditions, inflammatory responses recruit pro-oxidant signals and vice versa. The aim of this article is to review the basic concepts about the triggering of inflammatory and oxidative responses in the CNS. Recent Advances: Diverse concurrent toxic pathways are described to provide a solid mechanistic scope for considering intervention at the experimental and clinical levels that are aimed at diminishing the harmful actions of these two contributing factors to nerve cell damage. Critical Issues and Future Directions: The main conclusion supports the existence of a narrow cross-talk between pro-inflammatory and oxidative signals that can lead to neuronal damage and subsequent neurodegeneration. Further investigation about critical pathways crosslinking oxidative stress and inflammation will strength our knowlegde on this topic. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 28, 1626-1651.
Keywords: immune responses; inflammation; neurodegeneration; oxidative stress; redox activity.