PerspectiveNeuroregeneration

Promoting CNS repair

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 30-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag3327

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Summary

A developmental loss of intrinsic reparative capacity and the inhibitory environment in injury and disease contribute to regenerative failure in the central nervous system (CNS). The same factors are thought to hinder endogenous and exogenous regenerative therapies, including cell-based replacement (1, 2). In neurodegenerative disorders, the contributions of microglia, astrocytes, and peripheral immune cells may be both harmful and beneficial. For example, resident microglia and peripheral cells of the innate immune system promote inflammation and cell death (apoptosis) in response to CNS injury, but immune cell activation also has been associated with neuroprotection and repair (3). This duality suggests that stimulating protective functions while minimizing proapoptotic and inhibitory signals could prove critical in treating neurodegenerative disease. On page 43 of this issue, Neves et al. (4) show that a neurotrophic signaling pathway in microglia and innate immune cells that is activated in disease or injury can be leveraged to promote neuroprotection and tissue repair.