Harnessing beneficial aspects of neuroinflammation for regenerating the central nervous system
- V. Wee Yong, University of Calgary
- Luanne Metz, University of Calgary
- Christopher Power, University of Alberta
- Peter Stys, University of Calgary
- Fiona Costello, University of Calgary
- Serge Rivest, Université Laval
This research project, led by Dr. V. Wee Yong from the University of Calgary, focused on the immune system, which is comprised of two major components, the innate and adaptive systems. Innate immunity is the first immune component to sense and respond to an injury. Indeed, a well-regulated innate immune response is a normal physiological process that is essential for functions such as wound healing and defense against foreign substances. Within the central nervous system (CNS), microglia are the resident cell population belonging to the innate immune system. Under conditions of CNS injury, another innate immune cell type, the macrophage, accesses the brain and spinal cord. The initial emphasis was on the role that such activated innate immune cells play in promoting the disease process in conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. Only more recently is there attention on the contribution of the innate immune system in improving the well being of the CNS. Indeed, this research team postulated that a well-regulated immune reactivity in the CNS can enable repair of the nervous system.
They sought to define the conditions under which physiologic neuroinflammation enables recovery, and to harness the beneficial aspects of innate neuroinflammation to allow the regeneration of the CNS from insults. This approach is transformational, as it promises to deliver new means to enabling CNS regeneration. These experiments are relevant to promoting recovery from several neurological disorders, including stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer’s disease.