Neuroimmunology – the past, present and future

E. Nutma, H. Willison, G. Martino, S. Amor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Neuroimmunology as a separate discipline has its roots in the fields of neurology, neuroscience and immunology. Early studies of the brain by Golgi and Cajal, the detailed clinical and neuropathology studies of Charcot and Thompson’s seminal paper on graft acceptance in the central nervous system, kindled a now rapidly expanding research area, with the aim of understanding pathological mechanisms of inflammatory components of neurological disorders. While neuroimmunologists originally focused on classical neuroinflammatory disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and infections, there is strong evidence to suggest that the immune response contributes to genetic white matter disorders, epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders, peripheral nervous system and neuro-oncological conditions, as well as ageing. Technological advances have greatly aided our knowledge of how the immune system influences the nervous system during development and ageing, and how such responses contribute to disease as well as regeneration and repair. Here, we highlight historical aspects and milestones in the field of neuroimmunology and discuss the paradigm shifts that have helped provide novel insights into disease mechanisms. We propose future perspectives including molecular biological studies and experimental models that may have the potential to push many areas of neuroimmunology. Such an understanding of neuroimmunology will open up new avenues for therapeutic approaches to manipulate neuroinflammation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-293
Number of pages16
JournalClinical and experimental immunology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • central nervous system
  • inflammation
  • neurodegeneration
  • neuroimmunology
  • neuroinflammation

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