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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Neuroimmune crosstalk in the central nervous system and its significance for neurological diseases

Li Tian*, Li Ma, Tiina Kaarela and Zhilin Li

Author Affiliations

Neuroscience Center, Viikinkaari 4, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:155  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-155

Published: 2 July 2012

Abstract

The central nervous system (CNS) is now known to actively communicate with the immune system to control immune responses both centrally and peripherally. Within the CNS, while studies on glial cells, especially microglia, have highlighted the importance of this cell type in innate immune responses of the CNS, the immune regulatory functions of other cell types, especially neurons, are largely unknown. How neuroimmune cross-talk is homeostatically maintained in neurodevelopment and adult plasticity is even more elusive. Inspiringly, accumulating evidence suggests that neurons may also actively participate in immune responses by controlling glial cells and infiltrated T cells. The potential clinical application of this knowledge warrants a deeper understanding of the mutual interactions between neurons and other types of cells during neurological and immunological processes within the CNS, which will help advance diagnosis, prevention, and intervention of various neurological diseases. The aim of this review is to address the immune function of both glial cells and neurons, and the roles they play in regulating inflammatory processes and maintaining homeostasis of the CNS.

Keywords:
Microglia; Astrocyte; Neuron; Neuroinflammation; Innate immunity; Adaptive immunity