It has long been known that the brain is an immunologically privileged site in normal conditions. Although the cascade of immune responses can occur as long as there is a neuronal injury or a potent immune stimulation, how the brain keeps glial cells in a quiescent state is still unclear. Increasing efforts have been made by several laboratories to elucidate how repression of immune responses is achieved in the neuronal environment. The suppression factors include neurotransmitters, neurohormones, neurotrophic factors, anti-inflammatory factors, and cell-cell contact via adhesion molecules or CD200 receptor. This review discusses how these factors affect the cascade of cerebral immune responses because no single factor listed above can fully account for the immune suppression. While several factors contribute to the suppression of immune responses, activation of glial cells and their production of pro-inflammatory factors do occur as long as there is a neuronal injury, suggesting that some neuronal components facilitate immune responses. This review also discusses which signals initiate or augment cerebral immune responses so that stimulatory signals override the suppressive signals. Increasing lines of evidence have demonstrated that immune responses in the brain are not always detrimental to neurons. Attempt to simply clear off inflammatory factors in the CNS may not be appropriate for neurons in neurological disorders. Appropriate control of immune cells in the CNS may be beneficial to neurons or even neuroregeneration. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms underlying immune suppression may help us to reshape pharmacological interventions against inflammation in many neurological disorders.
- Neural cell adhesion molecule
- Potassium ions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases