Microglia are the main resident macrophage population of the CNS and perform numerous functions required for CNS development, homeostasis, immunity, and repair. Many lines of evidence also indicate that dysregulation of microglia contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and behavioral diseases. These observations provide a compelling argument to more clearly define the mechanisms that control microglia identity and function in health and disease. In this Review, we present a conceptual framework for how different classes of transcription factors interact to select and activate regulatory elements that control microglia development and their responses to internal and external signals. We then describe functions of specific transcription factors in normal and pathological contexts and conclude with a consideration of open questions to be addressed in the future.
Inge R. Holtman, Dylan Skola, Christopher K. Glass
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative disorder that is characterized by loss of motor neurons and shows clinical, pathological, and genetic overlap with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Activated microglia are a universal feature of ALS/FTD pathology; however, their role in disease pathogenesis remains incompletely understood. The recent discovery that ORF 72 on chromosome 9 (C9orf72), the gene most commonly mutated in ALS/FTD, has an important role in myeloid cells opened the possibility that altered microglial function plays an active role in disease. This Review highlights the contribution of microglia to ALS/FTD pathogenesis, discusses the connection between autoimmunity and ALS/FTD, and explores the possibility that C9orf72 and other ALS/FTD genes may have a “dual effect” on both neuronal and myeloid cell function that could explain a shared propensity for altered systemic immunity and neurodegeneration.
Deepti Lall, Robert H. Baloh
Spinal cord injury (SCI) lesions present diverse challenges for repair strategies. Anatomically complete injuries require restoration of neural connectivity across lesions. Anatomically incomplete injuries may benefit from augmentation of spontaneous circuit reorganization. Here, we review SCI cell biology, which varies considerably across three different lesion-related tissue compartments: (a) non-neural lesion core, (b) astrocyte scar border, and (c) surrounding spared but reactive neural tissue. After SCI, axon growth and circuit reorganization are determined by neuron-cell-autonomous mechanisms and by interactions among neurons, glia, and immune and other cells. These interactions are shaped by both the presence and the absence of growth-modulating molecules, which vary markedly in different lesion compartments. The emerging understanding of how SCI cell biology differs across lesion compartments is fundamental to developing rationally targeted repair strategies.
Timothy M. O’Shea, Joshua E. Burda, Michael V. Sofroniew
Microglial cells are the resident tissue macrophages of the CNS and are widely recognized for their immune surveillance of the healthy CNS. In addition to this well-accepted function, recent findings point to major roles for microglia in instructing and regulating the proper function of the neuronal networks in the adult CNS, but these cells are also involved in creating neuronal networks by orchestrating construction of the whole network during development. In this Review, we highlight recent findings about the steady-state functions of microglial cells, the factors that are important for physiological microglial function, and how microglia help to maintain tissue homeostasis in the CNS.
Katrin Kierdorf, Marco Prinz
Prion diseases are a group of progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorders characterized by deposition of scrapie prion protein (PrPSc) in the CNS. This deposition is accompanied by neuronal loss, spongiform change, astrogliosis, and conspicuous microglial activation. Here, we argue that microglia play an overall neuroprotective role in prion pathogenesis. Several microglia-related molecules, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), the complement system, cytokines, chemokines, inflammatory regulators, and phagocytosis mediators, are involved in prion pathogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the microglial response to prion infection are largely unknown. Consequently, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory network of microglial activation. On the positive side, recent findings suggest that therapeutic strategies modulating microglial activation and function may have merit in prion disease. Moreover, studies on the role of microglia in prion disease could deepen our understanding of neuroinflammation in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders.
Adriano Aguzzi, Caihong Zhu
Substantial preclinical and clinical research into chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) has come to fruition in the last five years, generating a clear understanding of a complex cytokine-driven cellular network. cGVHD is mediated by naive T cells differentiating within IL-17–secreting T cell and follicular Th cell paradigms to generate IL-21 and IL-17A, which drive pathogenic germinal center (GC) B cell reactions and monocyte-macrophage differentiation, respectively. cGVHD pathogenesis includes thymic damage, impaired antigen presentation, and a failure in IL-2–dependent Treg homeostasis. Pathogenic GC B cell and macrophage reactions culminate in antibody formation and TGF-β secretion, respectively, leading to fibrosis. This new understanding permits the design of rational cytokine and intracellular signaling pathway–targeted therapeutics, reviewed herein.
Kelli P.A. MacDonald, Bruce R. Blazar, Geoffrey R. Hill
Modern immunosuppression regimens effectively control acute rejection and decrease graft loss in the first year after transplantation; however, these regimens do not have a durable effect on long-term graft survival owing to a combination of drug toxicities and the emergence of chronic alloimmune responses. Eliminating drugs and their toxicities while maintaining graft acceptance has been the primary aim of cellular therapies. Tregs suppress both autoimmune and alloimmune responses and are particularly effective in protecting allografts in experimental transplant models. Further, Treg-based therapies are selective, do not require harsh conditioning, and do not have a risk of graft-versus-host disease. Trial designs should consider the distinct immunological features of each transplanted organ, Treg preparations, dose, and frequency, and the ability to detect and quantify Treg effects in a given transplant environment. In this Review, we detail the ongoing clinical trials of Treg therapy in liver and kidney transplantation. Integration of Treg biology gleaned from preclinical models and experiences in human organ transplantation should allow for optimization of trial design that will determine the potential efficacy of a given therapy and provide guidelines for further therapeutic development.
Qizhi Tang, Flavio Vincenti
Alloimmune T cells are central mediators of rejection and graft-versus-host disease in both solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Unique among immune responses in terms of its strength and diversity, the T cell alloresponse reflects extensive genetic polymorphisms between allogeneic donors and recipients, most prominently within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which encodes human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) in humans. The repertoire of alloreactive T cell clones is distinct for every donor-recipient pair and includes potentially thousands of unique HLA/peptide specificities. The extraordinary magnitude of the primary alloresponse and diversity of the T cell population mediating it have presented technical challenges to its study in humans. High-throughput T cell receptor sequencing approaches have opened up new possibilities for tackling many fundamental questions about this important immunologic phenomenon.
Susan DeWolf, Megan Sykes
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Early clinical trials demonstrate that adoptive transfer of donor-derived virus-specific T cells to restore virus-specific immunity is an effective strategy to control CMV and EBV infection after HSCT, conferring protection in 70%–90% of patients. The field has evolved rapidly to develop solutions to some of the manufacturing challenges identified in early clinical studies, such as prolonged in vitro culture, optimization of the purity of the virus-specific T cell product, the potential limitations of targeting a single viral antigen, and how to manage the patient with a virus-naive donor. This Review both discusses the seminal early studies and explores cutting-edge novel technologies that broaden the feasibility of and the scope for delivering virus-specific T cells to patients after HSCT.
Claire Roddie, Karl S. Peggs
Solid organ transplantation is a curative therapy for hundreds of thousands of patients with end-stage organ failure. However, long-term outcomes have not improved, and nearly half of transplant recipients will lose their allografts by 10 years after transplant. One of the major challenges facing clinical transplantation is antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) caused by anti-donor HLA antibodies. AMR is highly associated with graft loss, but unfortunately there are few efficacious therapies to prevent and reverse AMR. This Review describes the clinical and histological manifestations of AMR, and discusses the immunopathological mechanisms contributing to antibody-mediated allograft injury as well as current and emerging therapies.
Nicole M. Valenzuela, Elaine F. Reed
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