Brain Behav Immun 2011 Mar 18;25(3):379-85. Epub 2010 Nov 18.
Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.
It was recently shown that adaptive immunity plays a key role in cognitive function. T cells appear to be major players in learning and memory; thus, mice devoid of functional T cells are impaired in performance of cognitive tasks such as Morris water maze (MWM), Barnes maze and others. This is a reversible phenomenon; injection of immune deficient mice with T cells from wild type counterparts improves their cognitive function. Recently we described a critical role for T cell-derived IL-4 as having beneficial effects on learning and memory through regulation of meningeal myeloid cell phenotype. In the absence of IL-4, meningeal myeloid cells acquire a pro-inflammatory skew. Thus, the presence of IL-4 in the meningeal spaces maintains a delicate balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory myeloid cell phenotype. Here we show that macrophages alternatively activated in vitro (M2 cells) can circumvent the need for 'pro-cognitive' T cells when injected intravenously into immune deficient mice. These results show for the first time that M2 myeloid cells are new and unexpected players in cognitive function, conferring beneficial effects on learning and memory without adaptive immune influence. These results might lead to development of new therapeutic approaches for cognitive pathologies associated with malfunction of adaptive immunity, such as chemo-brain, age-related dementia, HIV-dementia, and others.