A sustained inflammatory reaction is present in acute (e.g. stroke) and chronic (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis) neurodegenerative disorders. Inflammation, which is fostered by both residential glial cells and blood-circulating cells that infiltrate the diseased brain, probably starts as a time- and site-specific defense mechanism that could later evolve into a destructive and uncontrolled reaction. In this article, we review the crucial dichotomy of brain inflammation, where failure to resolve an acute beneficial response could lead to a vicious and anarchic state of chronic activation. The possible use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the management of neurodegenerative diseases is discussed in light of recent data demonstrating a neuroprotective role of local innate and adaptive immune responses. Novel therapeutic approaches must rely on potentiation of endogenous anti-inflammatory pathways, identification of early markers of neuronal deterioration and a combination treatment involving immune modulation and anti-inflammatory therapies.
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