IMR Press / FBL / Volume 13 / Issue 9 / DOI: 10.2741/2937

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Open Access Article

Microglial degeneration in the aging brain – bad news for neurons?

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1 Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Academic Editor: Ken-ichiro Fukuchi

Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2008, 13(9), 3423–3438; https://doi.org/10.2741/2937
Published: 1 May 2008
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aging and neuroprotection)
Abstract

We have long promulgated the idea that microglial cells serve an entirely beneficial role in the central nervous system (CNS), not only as immunological sentinels to fend off potentially dangerous infections, but also as constitutively neuroprotective glia that help sustain neuronal function in the normal and especially in the injured CNS when microglia become activated. In recent years, we have reported on the presence of degenerating microglial cells, which are prominent in the brains of aged humans and humans with neurodegenerative diseases, and this has led us to propose a hypothesis stating that loss of microglia and microglial neuroprotective functions could, at least in part, account for aging-related neurodegeneration. In the current review, we sum up the many aspects that characterize microglial activation and compare them to those that characterize microglial senescence and degeneration. We also consider the possible role of oxidative stress as a cause of microglial degeneration. We finish up by discussing the role microglial cells play in terms of amyloid clearance and degradation with the underlying idea that removal of amyloid constitutes a microglial neuroprotective function, which may become compromised during aging.

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