Heterogeneity of CNS myeloid cells and their roles in neurodegeneration

Marco Prinz, Josef Priller, Sangram S Sisodia, Richard M Ransohoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The diseased brain hosts a heterogeneous population of myeloid cells, including parenchymal microglia, perivascular cells, meningeal macrophages and blood-borne monocytes. To date, the different types of brain myeloid cells have been discriminated solely on the basis of their localization, morphology and surface epitope expression. However, recent data suggest that resident microglia may be functionally distinct from bone marrow- or blood-derived phagocytes, which invade the CNS under pathological conditions. During the last few years, research on brain myeloid cells has been markedly changed by the advent of new tools in imaging, genetics and immunology. These methodologies have yielded unexpected results, which challenge the traditional view of brain macrophages. On the basis of these new studies, we differentiate brain myeloid subtypes with regard to their origin, function and fate in the brain and illustrate the divergent features of these cells during neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-35
Number of pages9
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2011


  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Central Nervous System
  • Humans
  • Microglia
  • Models, Biological
  • Myeloid Cells
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Signal Transduction
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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