Dysregulated neuronal-microglial cross-talk during aging, stress and inflammation

Heidi A. Jurgens, Rodney W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Communication between neurons and microglia is essential for maintaining homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS) during both physiological and inflammatory conditions. While microglial activation is necessary and beneficial in response to injury or disease, excessive or prolonged activation can have deleterious effects on brain function and behavior. To prevent inflammation-associated damage, microglia reactivity is actively modulated by neurons in the healthy brain. Age or stress-induced disruption of normal neuronal-microglial communication could lead to an aberrant central immune response when additional stressors are applied. Recent work suggests that both aging and stress shift the CNS microenvironment to a pro-inflammatory state characterized by increased microglial reactivity and a reduction in anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory factors. This review will discuss how heightened neuroinflammation associated with aging and stress may be compounded by the concomitant loss of neuronally derived factors that control microglial activation, leaving the brain vulnerable to excessive inflammation and neurobehavioral complications upon subsequent immune challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Microglia
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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