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Keywords:

  • Free oxygen radicals;
  • Nitric oxide;
  • Cytokines;
  • Phagocytosis;
  • Proteinases;
  • Cathepsins

Abstract

The most characteristic property of microglia is their swift activation in response to neuronal stress and their capacity for site-directed phagocytosis. The transformation of microglia into intrinsic brain macrophages appears to be under strict control and takes place if neuronal and/or terminal degeneration occurs in response to nerve lesion. The differentiation of microglia into brain macrophages is accompanied by the release of several secretory products, e.g., proteinases, cytokines, reactive oxygen intermediates, and reactive nitrogen intermediates. Interference with the microglial activation or the productions of cytotoxic metabolites by microglia may thus offer new therapeutic opportunities for the prevention of neuronal cell death in CNS disease.