Although the brain is now known to actively interact with the immune system under non-inflammatory conditions, the site of cell-cell interactions between brain parenchymal cells and immune cells has been an open question until recently. Studies by our and other groups have indicated that brain structures such as the leptomeninges, choroid plexus stroma and epithelium, attachments of choroid plexus, vascular endothelial cells, cells of the perivascular space, circumventricular organs, and astrocytic endfeet construct the histological architecture that provides a location for intercellular interactions between bone marrow-derived myeloid lineage cells and brain parenchymal cells under non-inflammatory conditions. This architecture also functions as the interface between the brain and the immune system, through which systemic inflammation-induced molecular events can be relayed to the brain parenchyma at early stages of systemic inflammation during which the blood-brain barrier is relatively preserved. Although brain microglia are well known to be activated by systemic inflammation, the mechanism by which systemic inflammatory challenge and microglial activation are connected has not been well documented. Perturbed brain-immune interaction underlies a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders including ischemic brain injury, status epilepticus, repeated social defeat, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Proinflammatory status associated with cytokine imbalance is involved in autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and depression. In this article, we propose a mechanism connecting systemic inflammation, brain-immune interface cells, and brain parenchymal cells and discuss the relevance of basic studies of the mechanism to neurological disorders with a special emphasis on sepsis-associated encephalopathy and preterm brain injury.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy