Receptors, Ion Channels and Signaling Mechanisms Underlying Microglial Dynamics [Molecular Bases of Disease]

April 8th, 2015 by Madry, C., Attwell, D.

Microglia, the innate immune cells of the CNS, play a pivotal role in brain injury and disease. Microglia are extremely motile: their highly ramified processes constantly survey the brain parenchyma, and they respond promptly to brain damage with targeted process movement towards the injury site. Microglia play a key role in brain development and function by pruning synapses during development, phagocytosing apoptotic newborn neurons, and regulating neuronal activity by direct microglia-neuron or indirect microglia-astrocyte-neuron interactions, which all depend on their process motility. This review highlights recent discoveries about microglial dynamics, focusing on the receptors, ion channels and signalling pathways involved.