Exploring the VISTA of microglia: immune checkpoints in CNS inflammation

Malte Borggrewe, Susanne M Kooistra, Randolph J Noelle, Bart J L Eggen, Jon D Laman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Negative checkpoint regulators (NCR) are intensely pursued as targets to modulate the immune response in cancer and autoimmunity. A large variety of NCR is expressed by central nervous system (CNS)-resident cell types and is associated with CNS homeostasis, interactions with peripheral immunity and CNS inflammation and disease. Immunotherapy blocking NCR affects the CNS as patients can develop neurological issues including encephalitis and multiple sclerosis (MS). How these treatments affect the CNS is incompletely understood, since expression and function of NCR in the CNS are only beginning to be unravelled. V-type immunoglobulin-like suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) is an NCR that is expressed primarily in the haematopoietic system by myeloid and T cells. VISTA regulates T cell quiescence and activation and has a variety of functions in myeloid cells including efferocytosis, cytokine response and chemotaxis. In the CNS, VISTA is predominantly expressed by microglia and macrophages of the CNS. In this review, we summarize the role of NCR in the CNS during health and disease. We highlight expression of VISTA across cell types and CNS diseases and discuss the function of VISTA in microglia and during CNS ageing, inflammation and neurodegeneration. Understanding the role of VISTA and other NCR in the CNS is important considering the adverse effects of immunotherapy on the CNS, and in view of their therapeutic potential in CNS disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1430
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number10
Early online date27-Aug-2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2020


  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Glia cells
  • Brain disease
  • Homeostasis
  • T-CELL

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