• Open Access

Neuroprotective and neurotoxic properties of glial cells in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease


  • Guest Editor: B.O. Popescu

*Correspondence to: Dan FRENKEL,
Department of Neurobiology,
George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences,
Sherman building, Room 424,
Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.
Tel.: +972-3-6409028
Fax: +972-3-6406743
E-mail: dfrenkel@post.tau.ac.il


  • • Introduction
  • • Innate immune response in the AD brain
    • - Microglia
    • - Astrocyte
  • • Glial cells mediate the peripheral immune response in AD
    • - Glial cell interaction with endothelial cells
    • - Glial cell interaction with T cells
  • • Glial cell activation as a therapeutic target in AD
  • • Conclusion


Alzheimer's disease (AD) affects more than 18 million people worldwide and is characterized by progressive memory deficits, cognitive impairment and personality changes. The main cause of AD is generally attributed to the increased production and accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ), in association with neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) formation. Increased levels of pro-inflammatory factors such as cytokines and chemokines, and the activation of the complement cascade occurs in the brains of AD patients and contributes to the local inflammatory response triggered by senile plaque. The existence of an inflammatory component in AD is now well known on the basis of epidemiological findings showing a reduced prevalence of the disease upon long-term medication with anti-inflammatory drugs, and evidence from studies of clinical materials that shows an accumulation of activated glial cells, particularly microglia and astrocytes, in the same areas as amyloid plaques. Glial cells maintain brain plasticity and protect the brain for functional recovery from injuries. Dysfunction of glial cells may promote neurodegeneration and, eventually, the retraction of neuronal synapses, which leads to cognitive deficits. The focus of this review is on glial cells and their diversity properties in AD.