Characterization of chemokines and their receptors in the central nervous system: physiopathological implications

Authors

  • Adriana Bajetto,

    1. Service of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy
    2. Section of Pharmacology, Department of Oncology, Biology and Genetics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
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  • Rudy Bonavia,

    1. Service of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy
    2. Section of Pharmacology, Department of Oncology, Biology and Genetics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
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  • Simone Barbero,

    1. Service of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy
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  • Gennaro Schettini

    1. Service of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Institute for Cancer Research, Genoa, Italy
    2. Section of Pharmacology, Department of Oncology, Biology and Genetics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor Gennaro Schettini, Pharmacology and Neuroscience Institute for Cancer Research, c/o Advanced Biotechnology Center, Largo Rosanna Benzi, 10, 16132 Genoa, Italy. E-mail: schettini@cba.unige.it

Abstract

Chemokines represent key factors in the outburst of the immune response, by activating and directing the leukocyte traffic, both in lymphopoiesis and in immune surveillance. Neurobiologists took little interest in chemokines for many years, until their link to acquired immune deficiency syndrome-associated dementia became established, and thus their importance in this field has been neglected. Nevertheless, the body of data on their expression and role in the CNS has grown in the past few years, along with a new vision of brain as an immunologically competent and active organ. A large number of chemokines and chemokine receptors are expressed in neurons, astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes, either constitutively or induced by inflammatory mediators. They are involved in many neuropathological processes in which an inflammatory state persists, as well as in brain tumor progression and metastasis. Moreover, there is evidence for a crucial role of CNS chemokines under physiological conditions, similar to well known functions in the immune system, such as proliferation and developmental patterning, but also peculiar to the CNS, such as regulation of neural transmission, plasticity and survival.

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