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Promotion of microglial phagocytosis by tuftsin stimulates remyelination in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Bao, Z;Hao, J;Li, Y;Feng, F;

Microglia were once thought to serve a pathogenic role in demyelinating diseases, particularly in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, it has recently been shown that in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of MS, microglia could serve a protective role by promoting remyelination via the efficient removal of apoptotic cells, the phagocytosis of debris and the support of myelinating oligodendrocytes. The aim of the present study was to determine if the effect of microglia could promote the recovery of EAE and attenuate symptoms in EAE. The severity of EAE was assessed by clinical scores, pathologic changes revealed by luxol fast blue staining and immunohistochemical techniques. The results suggested that microglia reduced clinical scores in mice, suppressed ongoing severe EAE and promoted remyelination and recovery in EAE mice. In addition, following induction with tuftsin, the M1/M2 cytokine balance was shifted, downregulating the proinflammatory M1 response and upregulating the antiinflammatory M2 response. Generally, microglia can stimulate remyelination, which serves a protective role in different phases of EAE and may represent a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of MS.