Under healthy conditions, microglia look placid. They sit evenly spaced throughout the brain, processes extended, quietly doing their job of scanning for debris. When disease kicks in, these calm cells can transmogrify and end up doing more harm than good. As discussed at “Neuroinflammation in Diseases of the Central Nervous System,” a Keystone meeting held January 25-30 in Taos, New Mexico, the rabble-rousing signals that fire up microglia are not confined to the brain but also come from “below the neck,” said Hugh Perry of the University of Southampton in England. Whether triggered by acute infections or chronic disease, systemic inflammation may amplify microglial responses and exacerbate neurodegeneration, according to researchers at the meeting. They proposed ways to slow disease progression by soothing systemic inflammation.