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Sunhee C. Lee

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date: 14 July 2020

Microglia, which are the resident macrophages of the brain, become "activated" in response to immunological challenges. Specifically, the microglia change their cell morphology, up-regulate surface antigens and receptors, and produce soluble mediators such as interferons, cytokines and chemokines. Through the secretion of these soluble mediators, unopposed microglial activation can initiate an inflammatory cascade by activating other glial cells and by recruiting systemic inflammatory cells into the CNS. Microglial activation, which when occurring on a wide scale is referred to as "reactive gliosis," accompanies CNS disorders and is an important feature of NeuroAIDS. Although generalized glial activation has traditionally been viewed deleterious to neuronal function and survival, the prevailing view now is that, depending on the context, activated glia can also function to downmodulate the immune response and promote repair through production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, neurotrophins, and other growth factors. In this chapter, we consider the properties of microglia that are relevant to an understanding of HIV diseases. To that end, we also discuss recent advances in microglial biology that provide clues to how microglial responses might be modulated and harnessed for the benefit of patients with HIV.

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