Environment matters: microglia function and dysfunction in a changing world.
The immune system is our interface with the environment, and immune molecules such as cytokines and chemokines and the cells that produce them within the brain, notably microglia, are critical for normal brain development. This recognition has in recent years led to the working hypothesis that inflammatory events during pregnancy or the early postnatal period, for example, in response to infection, may disrupt the normal developmental trajectory of microglia and consequently their interactions with neurons, thereby contributing to the risk for neurological disorders. The current article outlines recent findings on the impact of diverse, pervasive environmental challenges, beyond infection, including air pollution and maternal stress; and their impact on microglial development and its broad implications for neural pathologies.
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