The executioners sing a new song: killer caspases activate microglia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Activation of microglia and inflammation-mediated neurotoxicity are suggested to have key roles in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders. We recently published an article in Nature revealing an unexpected role for executioner caspases in the microglia activation process. We showed that caspases 8 and 3/7, commonly known to have executioner roles for apoptosis, can promote microglia activation in the absence of death. We found these caspases to be activated in microglia of PD and AD subjects. Inhibition of this signaling pathway hindered microglia activation and importantly reduced neurotoxicity in cell and animal models of disease. Here we review evidence suggesting that microglia can have a key role in the pathology of neurodegenerative disorders. We discuss possible underlying mechanisms regulating their activation and neurotoxic effect. We focus on the provocative hypothesis that caspase inhibition can be neuroprotective by targeting the microglia rather than the neurons themselves. Cell Death and Differentiation (2011) 18, 1679-1691; doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.107; published online 12 August 2011


  • J. L. Venero
  • Miguel Burguillos Garcia
  • Patrik Brundin
  • B. Joseph
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurosciences


  • microglia, caspases, neurodegenerative disorders
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1679-1691
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Neuronal Survival (013212041)