Microglia in CNS infections: insights from Toxoplasma gondii and other pathogens

Trends Parasitol. 2022 Mar;38(3):217-229. doi: 10.1016/j.pt.2021.12.004. Epub 2022 Jan 14.


Microglia, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), are poised to respond to neuropathology. Microglia play multiple roles in maintaining homeostasis and promoting inflammation in numerous disease states. The study of microglial innate immune programs has largely focused on exploring neurodegenerative disease states with the use of genetic targeting approaches. Our understanding of how microglia participate in immune responses against pathogens is just beginning to take shape. Here, we review existing animal models of CNS infection, with a focus on how microglial physiology and inflammatory processes control protozoan and viral infections of the brain. We further discuss how microglial participation in over-exuberant immune responses can drive immunopathology that is detrimental to CNS health and homeostasis.

Keywords: CNS infection; Toxoplasma gondii; microglia; neuroimmunology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System
  • Central Nervous System Infections* / pathology
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / pathology
  • Toxoplasma*