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Innate Immunity in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Complex Affair

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by three major histopathological hallmarks: β-amyloid deposits, neurofibrillary tangles and gliosis. While neglected for decades, the neuroinflammatory processes coordinated by microglia are now accepted as etiologic events in AD evolution. Microglial cells are found in close vicinity to amyloid plaques and display various activation phenotypes determined by the expression of a wide range of cytokines, chemokines, and innate immune surface receptors. During the development of AD pathology, microglia fail to restrict amyloid plaques and may contribute to neurotoxicity and cognitive deficit. Nevertheless, under specific activation states, microglia can participate in cerebral amyloid clearance. This review focuses on the complex relationship between microglia and Aβ pathology, and highlights both deleterious and beneficial roles of microglial activation states in the context of AD. A deeper understanding of microglial biology will hopefully pave the way for next-generation AD therapeutic approaches aimed at harnessing these enigmatic innate immune cells of the central nervous system.
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Keywords: Alzheimer disease; amyloid-β peptide; chemokine; cytokine; gliosis; inflammation; innate immunity; microglia; neuroinflammation; phagocytosis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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