As is the case for macrophages in many body systems, microglia are capable of providing both protection and destruction. The exaggerated or prolonged activation of microglial cells can be detrimental to the brain. In certain cases, the pathological activation of microglia may have a decisive input into the pathological developments. This may happen, for example, in infectious diseases, in particular in certain types of bacterial infection or in prion diseases (see Chapter 10). Similarly, chronic neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease - Chapter 10) may underlie the long-lasting over-activation of microglial cells, which subsequently may produce neuronal or astroglial death.
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