The neuropathological basis to the functional role of microglia/macrophages in gliomas

Neurol Sci. 2017 Sep;38(9):1571-1577. doi: 10.1007/s10072-017-3002-x. Epub 2017 Jun 7.


The paper wants to be a tracking shot of the main recent acquisitions on the function and significance of microglia/macrophages in gliomas. The observations have been principally carried out on in vitro cultures and on tumor transplants in animals. Contrary to what is deduced from microglia in non-neoplastic pathologic conditions of central nervous system (CNS), most conclusions indicate that microglia acts favoring tumor proliferation through an immunosuppression induced by glioma cells. By immunohistochemistry, different microglia phenotypes are recognized in gliomas, from ramified microglia to frank macrophagic aspect. One wonders whether the functional conclusions drawn from many microglia studies, but not in conditions of human pathology, apply to all the phenotypes recognizable in them. It is difficult to verify in human pathology a prognostic significance of microglia. Only CD163-positive microglia/macrophages inversely correlate with glioma patients' survival, whereas the total number of microglia does not change with the malignancy grade.

Keywords: Gliomas; Microglia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Glioma / diagnosis
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • CD163 antigen
  • Receptors, Cell Surface