Innate Immunity and Neurodegeneration

Annu Rev Med. 2018 Jan 29;69:437-449. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-050715-104343. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


The innate immune system plays diverse roles in health and disease. It represents the first line of defense against infection and is involved in tissue repair, wound healing, and clearance of apoptotic cells and cellular debris. Excessive or nonresolving innate immune activation can lead to systemic or local inflammatory complications and cause or contribute to the development of inflammatory diseases. In the brain, microglia represent the key innate immune cells, which are involved in brain development, brain maturation, and homeostasis. Impaired microglial function, either through aberrant activation or decreased functionality, can occur during aging and during neurodegeneration, and the resulting inflammation is thought to contribute to neurodegenerative diseases. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of the influence of innate immunity on neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Huntington's disease; Parkinson's disease; Toll-like receptors; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; inflammasomes; neuroinflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / immunology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology*
  • Parkinson Disease / immunology