Microglia are the tissue macrophage of the central nervous system (CNS). Their
activation is a common feature of nearly all CNS neuropathologies, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord
injury, Alzheimer's disease and stroke. As yet their relative contributions toward neuroprotection and
neurodestruction are a subject of high debate. A further complication confounding this debate, are our
observations that CNS-resident microglia and acutely infiltrating inflammatory macrophages play distinct
roles during regeneration and pathogen defense.
The general research focus of my lab is to: Define the role of microglia versus infiltrating immune cells
in the developing and inflamed central nervous system
Specifically we seek to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying receptor-mediated triggers of their
neuroprotective / neuroregenerative promoting functions versus their cytotoxic/ anti-pathogen defense functions.
Here, we plan to utilize embryonic stem (ES) cells in two complementary research directions.
, ES cells have the demonstrated potential to not only act as replacement cells. They can also
promote repair by altering the inflammatory environment present in many degenerative disorders. Microglia are
exquisite biosensors of subtle changes in the CNS microenvironment and their molecular activation state will be
used to identify and define environmental influences of ES cells in models of CNS neurodegeneration.
, within the CNS, microglia are highly abundant in brain regions with endogenous stem
cells/progenitor cells. In collaboration with other investigators at UCR, we will ascertain the molecular
activation states of microglia and infiltrating macrophages that are compatible with ES survival in vivo.
More information on the Carson Lab