The fast growing research field of Neuroinflammation is challenging the traditional view of the Brain as an immune privileged organ. Our increasing understanding of the mechanisms involved in the close functional interaction between neurons and glia in health and disease is contributing to shed new light into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. The response of microglia and astrocytes to injury, releasing signaling molecules (specially, cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species), is central in neuroinflammation and in neuron death/survival.
At long-term, our better knowledge of the functional crosstalk between neurons and glia in health and disease and the bidirectional flux of immune cells from the peripheral blood to the brain parenchyma through the blood-brain barrier will allow the build-up of new tools for the treatment of the major diseases afflicting the human brain. In this chapter we review and discuss the immune response of the brain to injury, on the basis of the close interaction between excitotoxicity and inflammation.
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