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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Modelling neuroinflammatory phenotypes in vivo

Marion S Buckwalter1 and Tony Wyss-Coray12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, 94305-5235, USA

2 Geriatric Research and Education and Clinical Center, Palo Alto Veteran's Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, 94304, USA

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2004, 1:10  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-1-10

Published: 1 July 2004

Abstract

Inflammation of the central nervous system is an important but poorly understood part of neurological disease. After acute brain injury or infection there is a complex inflammatory response that involves activation of microglia and astrocytes and increased production of cytokines, chemokines, acute phase proteins, and complement factors. Antibodies and T lymphocytes may be involved in the response as well. In neurodegenerative disease, where injury is more subtle but consistent, the inflammatory response is continuous. The purpose of this prolonged response is unclear, but it is likely that some of its components are beneficial and others are harmful. Animal models of neurological disease can be used to dissect the specific role of individual mediators of the inflammatory response and assess their potential benefit. To illustrate this approach, we discuss how mutant mice expressing different levels of the cytokine transforming growth factor β-1 (TGF-β1), a major modulator of inflammation, produce important neuroinflammatory phenotypes. We then demonstrate how crosses of TGF-β1 mutant mice with mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) produced important new information on the role of inflammation in AD and on the expression of different neuropathological phenotypes that characterize this disease.