Leukocyte trafficking from the blood into the tissues represents a key process during inflammation and requires multiple steps mediated by adhesion molecules and chemoattractants. Inflammation has a detrimental role in several diseases, and in such cases, the molecular mechanisms controlling leukocyte migration are potential therapeutic targets. Over the past 20 years, leukocyte migration in the CNS has been investigated almost exclusively in the context of stroke and MS. Experimental models of ischemic stroke have led to the characterization of adhesion molecules controlling leukocyte migration during acute inflammation, whereas EAE, the animal model of MS, has provided similar data for chronic inflammation. Such experiments have led to clinical trials of antileukocyte adhesion therapy, with consistently positive outcomes in human subjects with MS, showing that interference with leukocyte adhesion can ameliorate chronic inflammatory CNS diseases. This review summarizes our current understanding of the roles of adhesion molecules controlling leukocyte-endothelial interactions in stroke and MS, focusing on recently discovered, novel migration mechanisms. We also discuss the growing evidence suggesting a role for vascular inflammation and leukocyte trafficking in neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. Moreover, we highlight recent findings suggesting a role for leukocyte-endothelial interactions in the pathogenesis of seizures and epilepsy, thus linking endothelial activation and leukocyte trafficking to neuronal electrical hyperactivity. These emerging roles for leukocytes and leukocyte adhesion mechanisms in CNS diseases provide insight into the mechanisms of brain damage and may contribute to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
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