Microglia emerge as central players in brain disease

Nat Med. 2017 Sep 8;23(9):1018-1027. doi: 10.1038/nm.4397.


There has been an explosion of new findings recently giving us insights into the involvement of microglia in central nervous system (CNS) disorders. A host of new molecular tools and mouse models of disease are increasingly implicating this enigmatic type of nervous system cell as a key player in conditions ranging from neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and chronic pain. Contemporaneously, diverse roles are emerging for microglia in the healthy brain, from sculpting developing neuronal circuits to guiding learning-associated plasticity. Understanding the physiological functions of these cells is crucial to determining their roles in disease. Here we focus on recent developments in our rapidly expanding understanding of the function, as well as the dysfunction, of microglia in disorders of the CNS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cell Death
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Phagocytosis / physiology*