Review

How neuroinflammation contributes to neurodegeneration

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Science  19 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6301, pp. 777-783
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2590

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Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and frontotemporal lobar dementia are among the most pressing problems of developed societies with aging populations. Neurons carry out essential functions such as signal transmission and network integration in the central nervous system and are the main targets of neurodegenerative disease. In this Review, I address how the neuron’s environment also contributes to neurodegeneration. Maintaining an optimal milieu for neuronal function rests with supportive cells termed glia and the blood-brain barrier. Accumulating evidence suggests that neurodegeneration occurs in part because the environment is affected during disease in a cascade of processes collectively termed neuroinflammation. These observations indicate that therapies targeting glial cells might provide benefit for those afflicted by neurodegenerative disorders.

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