The Role Of Microglia In Alzheimer’s – What You Need To Know

The regulatory brain development cells; microglia are residential cells that provide maintenance of neuronal connection and repairment of injury. Microglia has been scientifically shown to play a significant role in combating Alzheimer’s disease. This article discusses the role of microglial cells and the brain immune cells in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Understanding The Role Of Microglia Cells

Microglia cells are a type of immune cells that exist in the central nervous system(CNS), the brain, and the spinal cord. About 10% to 15% of the brain cells are microglia. They are regarded as resident macrophage cells and they act as the first and main form of active defense of the immune system in the central nervous system.

Microglia In Brain's Immune Cells

Microglia are basically key cells in the general maintenance of the brain.

Microglia constantly and continuously inspect the central nervous system for plaques, damaged or irrelevant neurons and synapses, and infectious agents. This is made possible through the presence of unique potassium channels that significantly respond to minimal changes in extracellular potassium.

Through direct somatic contacts, microglia frequently monitor neuronal functions, exerting neuroprotective effects when in need.

Microglia In Brain’s Immune Cells 

The brain immune cells known as the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) highly protect the brain against invaders. It prevents substances that are not wanted like pathogens’ presence in blood from entering the brain.

The brain gets rid of cellular waste and dead cells through microglia which are the resident immune cells of the brain. When neurons do not work or communicate effectively, microglia remove such making sure that nothing interrupts the information transfer between neurons.

Microglia are popularly known as the immune cells of the brain and they remarkably mimic the performance of immune cells in the body by working continually to inspect the brain’s environment in case of any trouble.

Despite this, Microglia possess a distinctive quality of efficiency in keeping a close watch on the cell’s environment, unlike other cells in the body. Microglia have an incredible feature which is their long and highly dynamic hands that allow them to extend and retract in all directions ensuring there’s no danger. 

After monitoring the environment and they did not detect possible danger, they rest by becoming inactive, however, during their period of rest and any sign of danger is detected, they will immediately become active and start the process of inflammation.

Also Read: Alzheimer’s In Younger Adults: Signs, Symptoms And More

The Role Of Microglia In The Development And Progression Of Alzheimer’s Disease

AD was first known in 1908  by a German neurologist, Alois Alzheimer who explained that patients who demonstrated confusion, disorientation, and progressive memory loss were experiencing signs of AD.

The crisis of Alzheimer’s disease is globally affecting the majority of the elderly and is the most common cause of dementia resulting in death. Alzheimer’s disease progresses in the brain when neurons are injured and die leading to breakdown between networks of neurons. 

Microglia helps in cleaning up abnormally shaped proteins that gather up and are connected with neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease but recent findings and research has proven that Microglia could be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Evidence proves that activated Microglia can be harmful to neurons in the sense of secreting inflammatory factors that can injure neurons directly or by neurotoxic astrocyte activation that worsens tau pathology. 

Evidence also indicates that AB and Tau aggregate are neurotoxic and this causes neurodegenerative processes in the brain, signifying that AB and tau are what mainly lead to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis.  

The activation of Microglia is definitely detrimental to brain health and this unnecessarily prolonged activation can lead to severe neurodegeneration. 

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Microglia can trigger the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease when it becomes overactive or through phagocytic dysfunction which leads to AB accumulation thereby promoting the progression of AD. Due to the fact that microglia are extremely sensitive to frequent/every change in their environment, they become too difficult to study. Since these experiments are carried out on mice, there should not be a quick conclusion on how Microglia operates or functions in humans until there’s concrete evidence through further conducted studies on humans.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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