Microglia and macrophage phenotypes in intracerebral haemorrhage injury: therapeutic opportunities

Brain. 2020 May 1;143(5):1297-1314. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz393.


The prognosis of intracerebral haemorrhage continues to be devastating despite much research into this condition. A prominent feature of intracerebral haemorrhage is neuroinflammation, particularly the excessive representation of pro-inflammatory CNS-intrinsic microglia and monocyte-derived macrophages that infiltrate from the circulation. The pro-inflammatory microglia/macrophages produce injury-enhancing factors, including inflammatory cytokines, matrix metalloproteinases and reactive oxygen species. Conversely, the regulatory microglia/macrophages with potential reparative and anti-inflammatory roles are outcompeted in the early stages after intracerebral haemorrhage, and their beneficial roles appear to be overwhelmed by pro-inflammatory microglia/macrophages. In this review, we describe the activation of microglia/macrophages following intracerebral haemorrhage in animal models and clinical subjects, and consider their multiple mechanisms of cellular injury after haemorrhage. We review strategies and medications aimed at suppressing the pro-inflammatory activities of microglia/macrophages, and those directed at elevating the regulatory properties of these myeloid cells after intracerebral haemorrhage. We consider the translational potential of these medications from preclinical models to clinical use after intracerebral haemorrhage injury, and suggest that several approaches still lack the experimental support necessary for use in humans. Nonetheless, the preclinical data support the use of deactivator or inhibitor of pro-inflammatory microglia/macrophages, whilst enhancing the regulatory phenotype, as part of the therapeutic approach to improve the prognosis of intracerebral haemorrhage.

Keywords: intracerebral haemorrhage; microglia; neuroinflammation; neurotoxicity; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Phenotype