Brain macrophage development, diversity and dysregulation in health and disease

Cell Mol Immunol. 2023 Nov;20(11):1277-1289. doi: 10.1038/s41423-023-01053-6. Epub 2023 Jun 26.


Brain macrophages include microglia in the parenchyma, border-associated macrophages in the meningeal-choroid plexus-perivascular space, and monocyte-derived macrophages that infiltrate the brain under various disease conditions. The vast heterogeneity of these cells has been elucidated over the last decade using revolutionary multiomics technologies. As such, we can now start to define these various macrophage populations according to their ontogeny and their diverse functional programs during brain development, homeostasis and disease pathogenesis. In this review, we first outline the critical roles played by brain macrophages during development and healthy aging. We then discuss how brain macrophages might undergo reprogramming and contribute to neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune diseases, and glioma. Finally, we speculate about the most recent and ongoing discoveries that are prompting translational attempts to leverage brain macrophages as prognostic markers or therapeutic targets for diseases that affect the brain.

Keywords: Brain; Inflammation; Macrophages; Meninges; Microglia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases* / pathology
  • Brain
  • Humans
  • Macrophages*
  • Meninges
  • Microglia