Skip to main content

Calming microglia: a future method for treating multiple sclerosis. 


Microglia are immune system cells in the brain and spinal cord that are central to the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis. While microglia can take a neuroprotective form, they can also take a neurodegenerative form. Central nervous system inflammation in multiple sclerosis is likely mediated by microglia that have chronically adopted the primarily neurodegenerative state. There is therefore great interest in treatments that can push microglia into a normal, resting state or a neuroprotective state. As a toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) antagonist with known anti-inflammatory actions on microglia, low-dose naltrexone (LDN) may be considered a prototypical microglia modulator. We will discuss the role of microglia modulation in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, including both current and future LDN-based methods. 

Learning objectives:

1. Understand how inflammatory microglia activation contributes to multiple sclerosis pathology.

2. Understand the pharmacologic techniques for driving microglia into a primarily neuroprotective state.

3. Understand the present efforts and future trajectory of low-dose naltrexone research in multiple sclerosis.



Jarred Younger received his Ph.D. in Experimental Health Psychology in 2003 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Arizona State University and Stanford University before taking an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Anesthesiology at Stanford University. In the summer of 2014, he moved his lab to the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and is now an Associate Professor in the departments of Psychology, Anesthesiology, and Rheumatology. Dr. Younger is director of the Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Laboratory and his work focuses on using neuroimaging, immunological, and pharmaceutical approaches to better understand chronic pain and fatigue. He is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to study ways to diagnose and treat neuroinflammation in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Gulf War syndrome. His research group also studies how opioid analgesics impact the human brain.