Mounting evidence indicates that microglial activation contributes to neuronal damage in neurodegenerative diseases. Recent studies show that in response to certain environmental toxins and endogenous proteins, microglia can enter an overactivated state and release reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause neurotoxicity. Pattern recognition receptors expressed on the microglial surface seem to be one of the primary, common pathways by which diverse toxin signals are transduced into ROS production. Overactivated microglia can be detected using imaging techniques and therefore this knowledge offers an opportunity not only for early diagnosis but, importantly, for the development of targeted anti-inflammatory therapies that might slow or halt the progression of neurodegenerative disease.
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