There is an increasing recognition that inflammation plays a critical role in neurodegenerative diseases of the CNS, including Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and the prototypic neuroinflammatory disease multiple sclerosis (MS). Differential immune responses involving the adaptive versus the innate immune system are observed at various stages of neurodegenerative diseases, and may not only drive disease processes but could serve as therapeutic targets. Ongoing investigations into the specific inflammatory mechanisms that play roles in disease causation and progression have revealed lessons about inflammation-driven neurodegeneration that can be applied to other neurodegenerative diseases. An increasing number of immunotherapeutic strategies that have been successful in MS are now being applied to other neurodegenerative diseases. Some approaches suppress CNS immune mechanisms, while others harness the immune system to clear deleterious products and cells. This Review focuses on the mechanisms by which inflammation, mediated either by the peripheral immune response or by endogenous CNS immune mechanisms, can affect CNS neurodegeneration.
Tanuja Chitnis, Howard L. Weiner