The astrocyte is the most abundant cell within the central nervous system (CNS). This cell subserves a multiplicity of important functions that contribute to the process of neural development as well as to the integrity of normal brain function. Adding to the already exhaustive list of capabilities, the astrocyte has now been demonstrated to function as an intracerebral antigen presenting cell. These findings are serving to revise our view of the brain as an immunoprivileged site and perhaps will shed some light on the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in a number of CNS disorders of immune dysregulation. In this review we provide some perspective on the regulatory mechanisms that influence astrocyte immune functions. Specifically, we address the role played by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens as well as adhesion molecules in the initiation of brain immune responses.
- antigen presentation
- gamma interferon (IFN-γ)
- intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)
- major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy