Innate and adaptive immune responses of the central nervous system

Samantha L. Bailey, Pamela A. Carpentier, Eileen J. McMahon, Wendy Smith Begolka, Stephen D. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


The central nervous system (CNS) is an immunologically specialized organ. The blood-brain barrier regulates the passage of molecules and cells into the CNS. Robust immune responses occur in the CNS even though there is normally an absence of MHC molecules, lack of normal lymphatic drainage, and reduced immune surveillance. This review discusses the immunological elements of the healthy CNS and the pattern of responses that evolve during innate and adaptive immunity in this organ. We also discuss the contribution of astrocytes, cerebrovascular endothelial cells, microglia, macrophages, and dendritic cells to the integrity and pathology of the CNS during CD4+ T-cell autoimmune responses directed against neuroantigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-188
Number of pages40
JournalCritical reviews in immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Astrocyte
  • CD4 Th1 cell
  • Cerebrovascular endothelial cell
  • Dendritic cell
  • Macrophage
  • Microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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