Research from Massachusetts Eye and Ear has shown that microglia may serve as facilitators of neuroinflammation in autoimmune uveitis.
Researchers described in a press release the role of microglia in directing the initiation of autoimmune uveitis by orchestrating the inflammatory response in the retina. The research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Until now, the role of microglia in retinal disease has not been fully understood, but our research shows — for the first time — that these cells serve as gatekeepers from the immune system to the central nervous system. This gateway not only has implications for treating uveitis, but may provide future avenues for drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier for other diseases of the central nervous system,” Kip M. Connor, PhD, vision researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear and associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, said in the release.
Microglia closely associate with the retinal vasculature and facilitate inflammatory immune cell entry past the blood-brain barrier into the retina. In ophthalmology, microglial cells are activated in response to developmental and disease indications. This means microglia may be context dependent, so they can be either beneficial or harmful.