Microglia are the resident macrophage population of the central nervous system (CNS). Adequate microglial function is crucial for a healthy CNS. Microglia are not only the first immune sentinels of infection, contributing to both innate and adaptive immune responses locally, but are also involved in the maintenance of brain homeostasis. Emerging data are showing new and fundamental roles for microglia in the control of neuronal proliferation and differentiation, as well as in the formation of synaptic connections. While microglia have been studied for decades, a long history of experimental misinterpretation meant that their true origins remained debated. However, recent studies on microglial origin indicate that these cells in fact arise early during development from progenitors in the embryonic yolk sac (YS) that seed the brain rudiment and, remarkably, appear to persist there into adulthood. Here, we review the history of microglial cells and discuss the latest advances in our understanding of their origin, differentiation, and homeostasis, which provides new insights into their roles in health and disease.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in people over 60 years old. The molecular and cellular alterations that trigger this disease are still diffuse, one of the reasons for the delay in finding an effective treatment. In the search for new targets to search for novel therapeutic avenues, clinical studies in patients who used antiinflammatory drugs indicating a lower incidence of AD have been of value to support the neuroinflammatory hypothesis of the neurodegenerative processes and the role of innate immunity in this disease. Neuroinflammation appears to occur as a consequence of a series of damage signals, including trauma, infection, oxidative agents, redox iron, oligomers of tau and beta-amyloid, etc. In this context, our theory of Neuroimmunomodulation focus on the link between neuronal damage and brain inflammatory process, mediated by the progressive activation of astrocytes and microglial cells with the consequent overproduction of proinflamrnatory agents. Here, we discuss about the role of rnicroglial and astrocytic cells, the principal agents in neuroinflammation process, in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. In this context, we also evaluated the potential relevance of natural anti-inflammatory components, which include curcumin and the novel Andean Compound, as agents for AD prevention and as a coadjuvant for AD treatments.
Microglia are the resident brain macrophages and they have been traditionally studied as orchestrators of the brain inflammatory response during infections and disease. In addition, microglia has a more benign, less explored role as the brain professional phagocytes. Phagocytosis is a term coined from the Greek to describe the receptor-mediated engulfment and degradation of dead cells and microbes. In addition, microglia phagocytoses brain-specific cargo, such as axonal and myelin debris in spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, amyloid-beta deposits in Alzheimer's disease, and supernumerary synapses in postnatal development. Common mechanisms of recognition, engulfment, and degradation of the different types of cargo are assumed, but very little is known about the shared and specific molecules involved in the phagocytosis of each target by microglia. More importantly, the functional consequences of microglial phagocytosis remain largely unexplored. Overall, phagocytosis is considered a beneficial phenomenon, since it eliminates dead cells and induces an anti-inflammatory response. However, phagocytosis can also activate the respiratory burst, which produces toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). Phagocytosis has been traditionally studied in pathological conditions, leading to the assumption that microglia have to be activated inorder to become efficient phagocytes. Recent data, however, has shown that unchallenged microglia phagocytose apoptotic cells during development and in adult neurogenic niches, suggesting an overlooked role in brain remodeling throughout the normal lifespan. The present review will summarize the current state of the literature regarding the role of microglial phagocytosis in maintaining tissue homeostasis in health as in disease.
It is well established that microglial form and function are inextricably linked. In recent years, the traditional view that microglial form ranges between "ramified resting" and "activated amoeboid" has been emphasized through advancing imaging techniques that point to microglial form being highly dynamic even within the currently accepted morphological categories. Moreover, microglia adopt meaningful intermediate forms between categories, with considerable crossover in function and varying morphologies as they cycle, migrate, wave, phagocytose, and extend and retract fine and gross processes. From a quantitative perspective, it is problematic to measure such variability using traditional methods, but one way of quantitating such detail is through fractal analysis. The techniques of fractal analysis have been used for quantitating microglial morphology, to categorize gross differences but also to differentiate subtle differences (e.g., amongst ramified cells). Multifractal analysis in particular is one technique of fractal analysis that may be useful for identifying intermediate forms. Here we review current trends and methods of fractal analysis, focusing on box counting analysis, including lacunarity and multifractal analysis, as applied to microglial morphology.
The Rho family of GTPases belongs to the Ras superfamily of low molecular weight (similar to 21 kDa) guanine nucleotide binding proteins. The most extensively studied members are RhoA, Rac1, and Cdc42. In the last few decades, studies have demonstrated that Rho family GTPases are important regulatory molecules that link surface receptors to the organization of the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. Indeed, Rho GTPases mediate many diverse critical cellular processes, such as gene transcription, cell cell adhesion, and cell cycle progression. However, Rho GTPases also play an essential role in regulating neuronal morphology. In particular, Rho GTPases regulate dendritic arborization, spine morphogenesis, growth cone development, and axon guidance. In addition, more recent efforts have underscored an important function for Rho GTPases in regulating neuronal survival and death. Interestingly, Rho GTPases can exert either a pro-survival or pro-death signal in neurons depending upon both the cell type and neurotoxic insult involved. This review summarizes key findings delineating the involvement of Rho GTPases and their effectors in the regulation of neuronal survival and death. Collectively, these results suggest that dysregulation of Rho family GTPases may potentially underscore the etiology of some forms of neurodegenerative disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In the nervous system, glia cells maintain homeostasis, synthesize myelin, provide metabolic support, and participate in immune defense. The communication between glia and neurons is essential to synchronize these diverse functions with brain activity. Evidence is accumulating that secreted extracellular vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes and shedding microvesicles, are key players in intercellular signaling. The cells of the nervous system secrete EVs, which potentially carry protein and RNA cargo from one cell to another. After delivery, the cargo has the ability to modify the target cell phenotype. Here, we review the recent advances in understanding the role of EV secretion by astrocytes, microglia, and oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system. Current work has demonstrated that oligodendrocytes transfer exosomes to neurons as a result of neurotransmitter signaling suggesting that these vesicles may mediate glial support of neurons.
Functional macrophage heterogeneity is recognized outside the central nervous system (CNS), where alternatively activated macrophages can perform immune-resolving functions. Such functional heterogeneity was largely ignored in the CNS, with respect to the resident microglia and the myeloid-derived cells recruited from the blood following injury or disease, previously defined as blood-derived microglia; both were indistinguishably perceived detrimental. Our studies have led us to view the myeloid-derived infiltrating cells as functionally distinct from the resident microglia, and accordingly, to name them monocyte-derived macrophages (mo-M Phi). Although microglia perform various maintenance and protective roles, under certain conditions when they can no longer provide protection, mo-M Phi are recruited to the damaged CNS; there, they act not as microglial replacements but rather assistant cells, providing activities that cannot be timely performed by the resident cells. Here, we focus on the functional heterogeneity of microglia/mo-M Phi, emphasizing that, as opposed to the mo-M Phi, microglia often fail to timely acquire the phenotype essential for CNS repair.
Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a common comorbidity in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Many studies have shown alterations in the composition of the fecal flora and metabolic products of the gut microbiome in patients with ASD. The gut microbiota influences brain development and behaviors through the neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and autonomic nervous systems. In addition, an abnormal gut microbiota is associated with several diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ASD and mood disorders. Here, we review the bidirectional interactions between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract (brain-gut axis) and the role of the gut microbiota in the central nervous system (CNS) and ASD. Microbiome-mediated therapies might be a safe and effective treatment for ASD.
Although astrogliosis and microglia activation are characteristic features of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other central nervous system (CNS) lesions the exact functions of these events are not fully understood. Animal models help to understand the complex interplay between the different cell types of the CNS and uncover general mechanisms of damage and repair of myelin sheaths. The so called cuprizone model is a toxic model of demyelination in the CNS white and gray matter, which lacks an autoimmune component. Cuprizone induces apoptosis of mature oligodendrocytes that leads to a robust demyelination and profound activation of both astrocytes and microglia with regional heterogeneity between different white and gray matter regions. Although not suitable to study autoimmune mediated demyelination, this model is extremely helpful to elucidate basic cellular and molecular mechanisms during de- and particularly remyelination independently of interactions with peripheral immune cells. Phagocytosis and removal of damaged myelin seems to be one of the major roles of microglia in this model and it is well known that removal of myelin debris is a prerequisite of successful remyelination. Furthermore, microglia provide several signals that support remyelination. The role of astrocytes during de- and remyelination is not well defined. Both supportive and destructive functions have been suggested. Using the cuprizone model we could demonstrate that there is an important crosstalk between astrocytes and microglia. In this review we focus on the role of glial reactions and interaction in the cuprizone model. Advantages and limitations of as well as its potential therapeutic relevance for the human disease MS are critically discussed in comparison to other animal models.
Microglia are resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS) that display high functional similarities to other tissue macrophages. However, it is especially important to create and maintain an intact tissue homeostasis to support the neuronal cells, which are very sensitive even to minor changes in their environment. The transition from the "resting" but surveying microglial phenotype to an activated stage is tightly regulated by several intrinsic (e.g., Runx-1, Irf8, and Pu.1) and extrinsic factors (e.g., CD200, CX(3)CR1, and TREM2). Under physiological conditions, minor changes of those factors are sufficient to cause fatal dysregulation of microglial cell homeostasis and result in severe CNS pathologies. In this review, we discuss recent achievements that gave new insights into mechanisms that ensure microglia quiescence.
Microglial cells in brain and spinal cord are characterized by high expression of the chemokine receptor CX(3)CR1. Expression of the sole CX(3)CR1 ligand, the membrane-tethered and sheddable chemokine CX(3)CL1/fractalkine, is restricted in the brain parenchyma to selected neurons. Here we summarize our current understanding of the physiological role of CX(3)CR1 for microglia function and the CX3C axis in microglial/neuronal crosstalk in homeostasis and under challenge. Moreover, we will discuss the efforts of our laboratory and others to exploit CX(3)CR1 promoter activity for the visualization and genetic manipulation of microglia to probe their functional contributions in the central nerve system (CNS) context.
Neuroinflammation has been identified as a causative factor of multiple neurological diseases. The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-, leucine-rich repeat-and pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, a subcellular multiprotein complex that is abundantly expressed in the central nervous system (CNS), can sense and be activated by a wide range of exogenous and endogenous stimuli such as microbes, aggregated and misfolded proteins, and adenosine triphosphate, which results in activation of caspase-1. Activated caspase-1 subsequently leads to the processing of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and interleukin-18 (IL-18) pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediates rapid cell death. IL-1 beta and IL-18 drive inflammatory responses through diverse downstream signaling pathways, leading to neuronal damage. Thus, the NLRP3 inflammasome is considered a key contributor to the development of neuroinflammation. In this review article, we briefly discuss the structure and activation the NLRP3 inflammasome and address the involvement of the NLRP3 inflammasome in several neurological disorders, such as brain infection, acute brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, we review a series of promising therapeutic approaches that target the NLRP3 inflammasome signaling including anti-IL-1 therapy, small molecule NLRP3 inhibitors and other compounds, however, these approaches are still experimental in neurological diseases. At present, it is plausible to generate cell-specific conditional NLRP3 knockout (KO) mice via the Cre system to investigate the role of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which may be instrumental in the development of novel pharmacologic investigations for neuroinflammation-associated diseases.
Although glutamate is one of the most important excitatory neurotransmitters of the central nervous system, its excessive extracellular concentration leads to uncontrolled continuous depolarization of neurons, a toxic process called, excitotoxicity. In excitotoxicity glutamate triggers the rise of intracellular Ca2+ levels, followed by up regulation of nNOS, dysfunction of mitochondria, ROS production, ER stress, and release of lysosomal enzymes. Excessive calcium concentration is the key mediator of glutamate toxicity through over activation of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. In addition, glutamate accumulation can also inhibit cystine (CySS) uptake by reversing the action of the CySS/glutamate antiporter. Reversal of the antiporter action reinforces the aforementioned events by depleting neurons of cysteine and eventually glutathione's reducing potential. Various cell lines have been employed in the pursuit to understand the mechanism(s) by which excitotoxicity affects the cells leading them ultimately to their demise. In some cell lines glutamate toxicity is exerted mainly through over activation of NMDA, AMPA, or kainate receptors whereas in other cell lines lacking such receptors, the toxicity is due to glutamate induced oxidative stress. However, in the greatest majority of the cell lines ionotropic glutamate receptors are present, co-existing to CySS/glutamate antiporters and metabotropic glutamate receptors, supporting the assumption that excitotoxicity effect in these cells is accumulative. Different cell lines differ in their responses when exposed to glutamate. In this review article the responses of PC12, SH-SY5Y, HT-22, NT-2, OLCs, C6, primary rat cortical neurons, RGC-5, and SCN2.2 cell systems are systematically collected and analyzed.
Astrocytes, the most abundant glial cell in the brain, play critical roles in metabolic and homeostatic functions of the Nervous System; however, their participation in coding information and cognitive processes has been largely ignored. The strategic position of astrocyte processes facing synapses and the astrocyte ability to uptake neurotransmitters and release neuroactive substances, so-called "gliotransrnitters", provide the scenario for prolific neuron-astrocyte signaling. From studies at single-cell level to animal behavior, recent advances in technology and genetics have revealed the impact of astrocyte activity in brain function from cellular and synaptic physiology, neuronal circuits to behavior. The present review critically discusses the consequences of astrocyte signaling on synapses and networks, as well as its impact on neuronal information processing, showing that some crucial brain functions arise from the coordinated activity of neuron-glia networks.
Microglial cells in brain and spinal cord are characterized by high expression of the chemokine receptor CX3CR1. Expression of the sole CX3CR1 ligand, the membrane-tethered and sheddable chemokine CX3CL1/fractalkine, is restricted in the brain parenchyma to selected neurons. Here we summarize our current understanding of the physiological role of CX3CR1 for microglia function and the CX3C axis in microglial/neuronal crosstalk in homeostasis and under challenge. Moreover, we will discuss the efforts of our laboratory and others to exploit CX3CR1 promoter activity for the visualization and genetic manipulation of microglia to probe their functional contributions in the central nerve system (CNS) context.
Dynamic adjustments to neuronal energy supply in response to synaptic activity are critical for neuronal function. Glial cells known as astrocytes have processes that ensheath most central synapses and express G-protein-coupled neurotransmitter receptor sand transporters that respond to neuronal activity. Astrocytes also release substrates for neuronal oxidative phosphorylation and have processes that terminate on the surface of brain arterioles and can influence vascular smooth muscle tone and local blood flow. Membrane receptor or transporter-mediated effects of glutamate represent a convergence point of astrocyte influence on neuronal bioenergetics. Astrocytic glutamate uptake drives glycolysis and subsequent shuttling of lactate from astrocytes to neurons for oxidative metabolism. Astrocytes also convert synaptically reclaimed glutamate to glutamine, which is returned to neurons for glutamate salvage or oxidation. Finally, astrocytes store brain energy currency in the form of glycogen, which can be mobilized to produce lactate for neuronal oxidative phosphorylation in response to glutamate rgicneuro transmission. These mechanisms couple synaptically driven astrocytic responses to glutamate with release of energy substrates back to neuron stomatch demand with supply. In addition, astrocytes directly influence thet one of penetrating brain arterioles in response to glutamatergic neuro transmission, coordinating dynamic regulation of local blood flow. We will describe the role of a strocytes in neurometabolic and neurovascular coupling in detail and discuss, in turn, how astrocyte dysfunction may contribute to neuronal bioenergetic deficit and neurodegeneration. Understanding the role of astrocytes as a hub for neurometabolic and neurovascular coupling mechanisms is a critical under pinning for the rapeutic development in a broad range of neuro degenerative disorders characterized by chronic generalized brain is chemia and brain microvascular dysfunction.
Stress granules (SGs) are RNA-containing cytoplasmic foci formed in response to stress exposure. Since their discovery in 1999, over 120 proteins have been described to be localized to these structures (in 154 publications). Most of these components are RNA binding proteins (RBPs) or are involved in RNA metabolism and translation. SGs have been linked to several pathologies including inflammatory diseases, cancer, viral infection, and neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In ALS and FTD, the majority of cases have no known etiology and exposure to external stress is frequently proposed as a contributor to either disease initiation or the rate of disease progression. Of note, both ALS and FTD are characterized by pathological inclusions, where some well-known SG markers localize with the ALS related proteins TDP-43 and FUS. We propose that TDP-43 and FUS serve as an interface between genetic susceptibility and environmental stress exposure in disease pathogenesis. Here, we will discuss the role of TDP-43 and FUS in SG dynamics and how disease-linked mutations affect this process.
Neuroinflammatory response is primarily a protective mechanism in the brain. However, excessive and chronic inflammatory responses can lead to deleterious effects involving immune cells, brain cells and signaling molecules. Neuroinflammation induces and accelerates pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Multiple sclerosis (MS). Neuroinflammatory pathways are indicated as novel therapeutic targets for these diseases. Mast cells are immune cells of hematopoietic origin that regulate inflammation and upon activation release many proinflammatory mediators in systemic and central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory conditions. In addition, inflammatory mediators released from activated glial cells induce neurodegeneration in the brain. Systemic inflammation-derived proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and other factors cause a breach in the blood brain-barrier (BBB) thereby allowing for the entry of immune/inflammatory cells including mast cell progenitors, mast cells and proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines into the brain. These peripheral-derived factors and intrinsically generated cytokines/chemokines, alpha-synuclein, corticotropinreleasing hormone (CRH), substance P (SP), beta amyloid 1-42 (A beta 1-42) peptide and amyloid precursor proteins can activate glial cells, T-cells and mast cells in the brain can induce additional release of inflammatory and neurotoxic molecules contributing to chronic neuroinflammation and neuronal death. The glia maturation factor (GMF), a proinflammatory protein discovered in our laboratory released from glia, activates mast cells to release inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Chronic increase in the proinflammatory mediators induces neurotoxic A b and plaque formation in AD brains and neurodegeneration in PD brains. Glial cells, mast cells and T-cells can reactivate each other in neuroinflammatory conditions in the brain and augment neuroinflammation. Further, inflammatory mediators from the brain can also enter into the peripheral system through defective BBB, recruit immune cells into the brain, and exacerbate neuroinflammation. We suggest that mast cell-associated inflammatory mediators from systemic inflammation and brain could augment neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in the brain. This review article addresses the role of some atypical inflammatory mediators that are associated with mast cell inflammation and their activation of glial cells to induce neurodegeneration.
Stim1 and Orai1 are ubiquitous proteins that have long been known to mediate Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAG) current (IcRAc) and store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) only in non-excitable cells. SOCE is activated following the depletion of the endogenous Ca2+ stores, which are mainly located within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), to replete the intracellular Ca2+ reservoir and engage specific Ca2+-dependent processes, such as proliferation, migration, cytoskeletal remodeling, and gene expression. Their paralogs, Stim2, Orai2 and Orai3, support SOCE in heterologous expression systems, but their physiological role is still obscure. Ca2+ inflow in neurons has long been exclusively ascribed to voltage-operated and receptor-operated channels. Nevertheless, recent work has unveiled that Stim1-2 and Orai1-2, but not Orai3, proteins are also expressed and mediate SOCE in neurons. Herein, we survey current knowledge about the neuronal distribution of Stim and Orai proteins in rodent and human brains; we further discuss that Orai2 is the main pore-forming subunit of CRAG channels in central neurons, in which it may be activated by either Stim1 or Stim2 depending on species, brain region and physiological stimuli. We examine the functions regulated by SOCE in neurons, where this pathway is activated under resting conditions to refill the ER, control spinogenesis and regulate gene transcription. Besides, we highlighted the possibility that SOCE also controls neuronal excitation and regulate synaptic plasticity. Finally, we evaluate the involvement of Stim and Orai proteins in severe neurodegenerative and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.
Schizophrenia is a disabling mental illness that is now recognized as a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is likely that genetic risk factors interact with environmental perturbations to affect normal brain development and that this altered trajectory results in a combination of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms. Although the exact pathophysiology of schizophrenia is unknown, the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), a major glutamate receptor subtype, has received great attention. Proper expression and regulation of NMDARs in the brain is critical for learning and memory processes as well as cortical plasticity and maturation. Evidence from both animal models and human studies implicates a dysfunction of NMDARs both in disease progression and symptoms of schizophrenia. Furthermore, mutations in many of the known genetic risk factors for schizophrenia suggest that NMDAR hypofunction is a convergence point for schizophrenia. In this review, we discuss how disrupted NMDAR function leads to altered neurodevelopment that may contribute to the progression and development of symptoms for schizophrenia, particularly cognitive deficits. We review the shared signaling pathways among the schizophrenia susceptibility genes DISC1, neuregulin1, and dysbindin, focusing on the AKT/GSK3 beta pathway, and how their mutations and interactions can lead to NMDAR dysfunction during development. Additionally, we explore what open questions remain and suggest where schizophrenia research needs to move in order to provide mechanistic insight into the cause of NMDAR dysfunction, as well as generate possible new avenues for therapeutic intervention.