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Abstract

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. To date, its cause remains unknown and the mechanism of nerve cell death uncertain. Apart from the massive loss of dopaminergic neurons, PD brains also show a conspicuous glial reaction together with signs of a neuroinflammatory reaction manifested by elevated cytokine levels and upregulation of inflammatory-associated factors such as cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase. Mounting evidence also suggests a possible deleterious effect of these neuroinflammatory processes in experimental models of the disease. We propose that, in PD, neuroinflammation plays a role in the cascade of events leading to nerve cell death, thus propagating the neurodegenerative process. In this review, we summarize and discuss the latest findings regarding neuroinflammatory aspects in PD. Ann Neurol 2003;53 (suppl 3):S49–S60