Microglia at center stage: a comprehensive review about the versatile and unique residential macrophages of the central nervous system

Nils Lannes, Elisabeth Eppler, Samar Etemad, Peter Yotovski and Luis Filgueira _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:114393-114413. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23106

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Nils Lannes1, Elisabeth Eppler2, Samar Etemad3, Peter Yotovski1 and Luis Filgueira1

1Albert Gockel, Anatomy, Department of Medicine, University of Fribourg, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

2Pestalozzistrasse Zo, Department of BioMedicine, University of Basel, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

3Building 71/218 RBWH Herston, Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, QLD 4029 Brisbane, Australia

Correspondence to:

Luis Filgueira, email: [email protected]

Keywords: microglia; neuroinflammation; neurodegeneration; virus infection; brain cancer

Received: August 23, 2017     Accepted: November 15, 2017     Published: December 11, 2017


Microglia cells are the unique residential macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS). They have a special origin, as they derive from the embryonic yolk sac and enter the developing CNS at a very early stage. They play an important role during CNS development and adult homeostasis. They have a major contribution to adult neurogenesis and neuroinflammation. Thus, they participate in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and contribute to aging. They play an important role in sustaining and breaking the blood-brain barrier. As innate immune cells, they contribute substantially to the immune response against infectious agents affecting the CNS. They play also a major role in the growth of tumours of the CNS. Microglia are consequently the key cell population linking the nervous and the immune system. This review covers all different aspects of microglia biology and pathology in a comprehensive way.

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