Our laboratory studies the interaction between neurons and non-neuronal glial cells in the development of disorders of the central nervus system. Microglia and astrocytes are the primary glial cells that are essential to the survival and proper function of neurons. We are particularly interested in delineating the intricate interactions between the resident immune cells in the brain, microglia and neurons in response to environmental toxicants, inflammatory agents and substances of abuse including alcohol and opioids. Microglia exhibit a wide spectrum of phenotypes from pro to anti-inflammatory status. Proinflammatory activation of microglia can lead to excessive production and accumulation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, proinflammatory cytokines and lipid mediators that impact on neurons to affect their functionality and survival. We are utilizing molecular, biochemical, cellular and whole animal approaches to gain insight into the relationship between microglia phenotypes and neuronal function in the development of various neurological disorders. Our ultimate goal is to identify novel molecular mediators of neurodegeneration as potential therapeutic targets and/or diagnostic biomarkers.