Microglial mandate: Immune cells feature prominently in human brain diseases

The growing realization that the immune cells of the brain mediate a wide range of responses to rapidly changing signals has led to our focus on their role in the normal and diseased human brain. The role of phagocytotic macrophages has been a major question in immunology and pathology since their discovery more than a century ago. In the last two decades increasing evidence shows autophagic and phagocytotic membrane mechanisms play fundamental roles in neural circuit assembly. New data and experimental systems promise continued rapid advance in our understanding of neuro-inflammatory processes in humans. Here we introduce this field with a summary of two recent papers and with commentaries from members of our editorial board. We hope this focus on these specific aspects of human microglia promotes the use of new neuro-immunological tools to develop therapeutic approaches to brain disease.

-Ron McKay, PhD, Chief Editor
Lieber Institute for Brain Development

-Venkata S. Mattay, MD
Managing Editor

-Michele Solis, PhD
Science Writer

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Editorial Board

Fred ‘Rusty’ Gage, PhD
President, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD
Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

Elizabeth Grove, PhD
Professor, University of Chicago

Jürgen Knoblich, PhD
Interim Scientific Director, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Arnold Kriegstein, MD
Professor, UCSF

Pat Levitt, PhD
Professor, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Mu-Ming Poo, PhD
Director, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences

John Rubenstein, MD, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF

Nenad Sestan, MD, PhD
Professor, Yale University

Flora Vaccarino, MD
Professor, Yale University

Chris Walsh, MD, PhD
Chief, Division of Genetics & Genomics, Boston Children’s Hospital

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