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Glial Cells in Neuroinflammation

In the central nervous system (CNS), glial cells comprise about 70% of the total cell population. These cells, which consist of microglia, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and perivascular glia, carry out a wide range of functions to support and protect neurons, and regulate the neuronal microenvironment. Recently, research has shown that microglia and astrocytes play key roles in the neuropathology of many neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders, in part, via the activation and propagation of neuroinflammation. Microglia are the principal resident immune cells in the brain. In response to harmful stimuli, they initiate an inflammatory response to clear the damaging agents and maintain brain homeostasis. Astrocytes, the most abundant glial cells in the CNS, are also activated in response to a variety of CNS insults. Reactive astrocytes initiate a range of beneficial responses including removing cellular debris, repairing the blood-brain barrier, and enclosing the necrotic lesion. Both activated microglia and astrocytes can adopt either a neurotoxic (M1 or A1, respectively) or neuroprotective (M2 or A2, respectively) phenotype that display different markers and secrete different compounds. R&D Systems offers a range of research tools needed for the investigation of glial cells in neuroinflammation.