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Control of microglial neurotoxicity by the fractalkine receptor

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Microglia, the resident inflammatory cells of the CNS, are the only CNS cells that express the fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1). Using three different in vivo models, we show that CX3CR1 deficiency dysregulates microglial responses, resulting in neurotoxicity. Following peripheral lipopolysaccharide injections, Cx3cr1-/- mice showed cell-autonomous microglial neurotoxicity. In a toxic model of Parkinson disease and a transgenic model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cx3cr1-/- mice showed more extensive neuronal cell loss than Cx3cr1+ littermate controls. Augmenting CX3CR1 signaling may protect against microglial neurotoxicity, whereas CNS penetration by pharmaceutical CX3CR1 antagonists could increase neuronal vulnerability.
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Control of microglial neurotoxicity by the
fractalkine receptor
Astrid E Cardona
1
, Erik P Pioro
1
, Margaret E Sasse
1
, Volodymyr Kostenko
1
, Sandra M Cardona
1
,
Ineke M Dijkstra
1
, DeRen Huang
1
, Grahame Kidd
1
, Stephen Dombrowski
2
, RanJan Dutta
1
, Jar-Chi Lee
3
,
Donald N Cook
4
, Steffen Jung
5,6
, Sergio A Lira
7
, Dan R Littman
6
& Richard M Ransohoff
1
Microglia, the resident inflammatory cells of the CNS, are the only CNS cells that express the fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1).
Using three different in vivo models, we show that CX3CR1 deficiency dysregulates microglial responses, resulting in
neurotoxicity. Following peripheral lipopolysaccharide injections, Cx3cr1
–/–
mice showed cell-autonomous microglial neurotoxicity.
In a toxic model of Parkinson disease and a transgenic model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cx3cr1
–/–
mice showed more
extensive neuronal cell loss than Cx3cr1
1
littermate controls. Augmenting CX3CR1 signaling may protect against microglial
neurotoxicity, whereas CNS penetration by pharmaceutical CX3CR1 antagonists could increase neuronal vulnerability.
CX3CR1 is expressed by monocytes, dendritic cells (DCs), and subsets
of T cells and natural killer cells in the circulation and by microglia in
the central nervous system (CNS)
1
. Fractalkine (CX3CL1), the exclu-
sive ligand for CX3CR1, is synthesized as a transmembrane glycopro-
tein, from which a soluble chemokine can be proteolytically released
2
.
CX3CR1/CX3CL1 signaling exerts distinct functions in different tissue
compartments: CX3CR1 deficiency impairs the morphogenesis of
myeloid DCs, which occupy the lamina propria of the small intestine
3
;
further, CX3CR1 contributes to the migration of circulating monocytes
to noninflamed tissues, where they differentiate into macrophages and
DCs. However, peripheral immune and inflammatory reactions are
mostly unaltered in Cx3cr1
–/–
or Cx3cl1
–/–
mice
4,5
. CX3CR1 is respon-
sible for recruiting natural killer cells to cardiac allografts
6
and to the
inflamed CNS of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomye-
litis
7
. In vitro, CX3CL1 promotes neuronal survival and inhibits
microglial apoptosis
8
, but the roles of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 in the intact
CNS are enigmatic.
Microglia, which have characteristics of immature myeloid cells,
sample the extracellular space of the healthy CNS through continuous
extension, retraction and remodeling of cellular processes
9,10
.In
response to injury, microglial cells undergo rapid morphological and
functional activation and acquire properties of mature myeloid cells,
including antigen presentation, reactive species generation, matrix
metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and phagocytosis, as well as
cytokine and growth factor secretion
11
. Microglial production of
reactive species, MMPs and inflammatory cytokines have been impli-
cated in neurotoxicity in vitro. However, control of microglial neuro-
toxicity in vivo remains poorly understood. Altered microglial function
can cause CNS disease in humans: homozygous deficiency of either
type 2 triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM2)orits
intracellular adaptor TYROBP causes adult onset dementing leuko-
encephalopathy, which is recapitulated in Tyrobp
–/–
mice
12
. Knock-
down of TREM2 in mouse microglia impairs their phagocytic activity
and enhances inflammatory gene expression, suggesting a mechanism
for the human disorder
13
.
To investigate the role of CX3CR1 in the intact CNS, we used mice in
which the Cx3cr1 gene was replaced with a cDNA encoding green
fluorescent protein (GFP), such that heterozygous Cx3cr1
+/GFP
(Cx3cr1
+/–
) mice expressed the GFP reporter in cells that retained
receptor function, whereas Cx3cr1
GFP/GFP
(Cx3cr1
–/–
) cells were labeled
and also lacked CX3CR1 (ref. 5). The CX3CR1-GFP reporter identifies
microglia in vivo
5,9,10
and permits their isolation and purification
ex vivo. Our results indicated that in the absence of CX3CR1/
CX3CL1 signaling, microglia had altered responses, both to inflam-
matory and neurotoxic stimuli. In particular, CX3CR1 deficiency was
associated with neuronal cell death after systemic lipopolysaccharide
(LPS) challenge. Cx3cr1
–/–
mice demonstrated more neuronal cell loss
in a toxin-induced model of Parkinson disease and in a model of
genetic motor neuron disease. The results identified CX3CL1 as the
first soluble factor that regulates microglial neurotoxicity.
RESULTS
Neuronal damage in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice after systemic LPS
We first examined the GFP
+
population in the CNS of Cx3cr1
GFP
mice
and found that green fluorescent cells overlapped precisely with brain
cells expressing microglial markers such as ionized calcium-binding
Received 6 March; accepted 5 May; published online 28 May 2006; corrected online 11 June 2006; doi:10.1038/nn1715
1
Neuroinflammation Research Center and Department of Neurosciences, Lerner Research Institute,
2
Department of Neurosurgery, and
3
Department of Quantitative Health
Sciences, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.
4
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.
5
Department of Immunology, Weizman Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.
6
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, New
York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.
7
Immunobiology Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.
Correspondence should be addressed to R.M.R. (ransohr@ccf.org).
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adapter molecule-1 (IBA-1)
14
(Fig. 1ac)andGriffonia simplicifolia
isolectin B4 (data not shown). This indicated that all CNS microglia
were GFP
+
in Cx3cr1
+/GFP
and Cx3cr1
GFP/GFP
mice, designated below as
Cx3cr1
+/–
and Cx3cr1
–/–
, respectively. According to a previous report
15
,
various CNS cells express CX3CR1 immunoreactivity. We found no
cells that coexpressed GFP and neuron-specific nuclear protein (NeuN)
(Fig. 1df), the proteoglycan NG2 (Fig. 1gi) or glial fibrillary acidic
protein (GFAP) (Fig. 1jl), indicating that neither CNS neurons, NG2
+
glia nor astrocytes expressed the CX3CR1 transcription unit in vivo by
this analysis.
To examine microglial activation in the absence of CX3CR1, we
induced a systemic inflammatory reaction by means of intraperitoneal
(i.p.) injections of LPS (ref. 16). Cx3cr1
+/–
mice showed moderate
morphological transformation of microglia (Fig. 2a), whereas
Cx3cr1
–/–
mice showed intense and widespread microglial activation
(Fig. 2b). Cx3cr1
–/–
but not Cx3cr1
+/–
mice showed numerous annexin
V–positive cells with neuronal morphology, throughout the cortex
and hippocampus (Fig. 2cf). We quantified the annexin V–positive
cells in the dentate gyrus and found that they were significantly
more numerous in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (Fig. 2g; P ¼ 0.0012) that received
LPS than in controls (Fig. 2g). We obtained compatible results from
TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) analyses (data not
shown). Based on these findings, we formed the hypothesis that
systemic inflammation, induced by LPS, activated the neurotoxic
potential of microglia in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice. We asked whether direct
local effects of LPS in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice might differ from those in
Cx3cr1
+/–
mice. RNase protection assay (RPA) of peritoneal macro-
phages from LPS-challenged Cx3cr1
+/–
and Cx3cr1
–/–
mice demon-
strated equivalent production of representative inflammatory cytokines
(Fig. 2h). This finding suggested that direct local effects of LPS were
equivalent in heterozygous and knockout mice and that the neurotoxic
consequences of peripheral LPS injections in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice arose
within the CNS.
Cell-autonomous neurotoxicity of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia
To address whether microglial neurotoxicity induced by systemic
inflammation was cell autonomous, we developed an adoptive transfer
protocol using purified populations of GFP-labeled activated micro-
glial cells (Fig. 3a). These were isolated from LPS-injected Cx3cr1
–/–
or
Cx3cr1
+/–
mice (n ¼ 6–8 donor mice per inoculum), washed and
microinjected into the frontal cortex of wild-type recipient mice
(Fig. 3b). At 36 h after transfer, recipient brains were analyzed for
the presence of microglia in serial free-floating
horizontal sections through the needle track,
and 1–2 mm ventral to the end of the needle
mark. The injection sites were defined as the
last section containing a visible needle track
and the next serial section without the needle
artifact. Examination of injection sites
(Fig. 3cf) showed divergent phenotypes for
Cx3cr1
+/–
(Fig. 3c) as compared with
Cx3cr1
–/–
microglial cells (Fig. 3d). Microglia
from Cx3cr1
+/–
mice, as previously described
for myeloid cells
17
, were not observed at
injection sites (Fig. 3c) and migrated widely
throughout the CNS parenchyma, preferen-
tially in white matter tracts (Fig. 3g). In
contrast, microglial cells from Cx3cr1
–/–
mice
remained localized at the injection site
(Fig. 3d) and migrating cells (Fig. 3gj)
were not detected in wild-type recipients of
activated Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (Fig. 3h). Furthermore, we analyzed
neuronal cell death (Fig. 3kn) and readily identified TUNEL/NeuN
double-positive neurons near the injection site (60–200 mm deep) in
wild-type recipients of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (Fig. 3l) but not in
recipients of Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia (Fig. 3k). The CNS tissues of wild-
type recipients of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia contained significantly fewer
migrating cells (Fig. 3o; P ¼ 0.02 compared with Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia).
Additionally, significantly more TUNEL-positive neurons were
detected in the CNS of wild-type recipients of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglial
cells (Fig. 3p; P ¼ 0.02). The microglial phenotype in these adoptive
transfer experiments was dependent both on genotype and activation
status, as unactivated microglia from Cx3cr1
–/–
control mice (that
received i.p. saline injections) distributed throughout the white matter
tracts of recipient wild-type mice (data not shown). These findings
demonstrated that activated Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia are neurotoxic in the
CNS of wild-type mice and provided an assay for evaluating putative
mediators of this toxic effect.
Our initial results suggested that CX3CR1 modulated the response of
CNS microglia to systemic inflammation. This hypothesis was further
tested by ex vivo RPA, using highly enriched preparations of microglia
(Fig. 3a)fromCx3cr1
+/–
or Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, purified from CNS tissues
after induction of systemic inflammation by i.p. LPS injections. These
experiments demonstrated increased expression of interleukin (IL)-1b,
but not tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a, IL-6 or lymphotoxin, by
microglia from LPS-injected Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (Fig. 3q, P ¼ 0.02).
Microglia from LPS-injected Cx3cr1
/
mice also demonstrated
elevated production of IL-1b–associated signaling intermediates such
as Myd88 (data not shown). These findings were noteworthy, because
IL-1 action through IL-1 receptor type 1 (IL-1R1) has been consistently
associated with neurodegeneration in vivo
18
. We tested whether IL-1
was a mediator of neurotoxicity caused by Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia, by using
IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), which blocks the assembly of the IL-
1R1/IL-1 receptor accessory protein (IL-1RAcP) signaling complex.
When IL-1RA was included in the adoptive transfer inoculum along
with activated microglia from LPS-injected Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, we
observed a reversal of the knockout phenotype (compare Fig. 3d,h,l
with Fig. 3e,i,m). In particular, blockade of IL-1 signaling restored
migration of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia throughout the CNS of wild-type
recipients (Fig. 3o; P ¼ 0.03 comparing Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia with and
without IL-1RA), and the number of TUNEL-positive neurons was
significantly reduced (Fig. 3p; P ¼ 0.02 comparing wild-type recipients
of Cx3cr1
–/–
cells with and without IL-1RA). Coinjection of Cx3cr1
–/–
ab de gh j
cf i l
k
Figure 1 Microglial cells comprise the CX3CR1/GFP
+
population. (al) Brain sections from Cx3cr1
+/–
mice immunostained with antibodies to IBA-1 (ac), NeuN (df), NG2 (gi) and GFAP (jl), showing
that the GFP
+
population overlaps precisely with IBA-1
+
microglial cells (c, merged image). Cells
expressing the CX3CR1-GFP reporter (d,g,j) did not colocalize to markers of neurons (e:NeuN
+
cells,
red), NG2
+
glial cells (h:NG2
+
, red) or astrocytes (k:GFAP
+
, red) as shown in merged images (f,i,l).
Scale bar, 25 mm.
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microglia with inert carrier protein did not enhance microglial migra-
tion or reduce microglial neurotoxicity (Fig. 3o,p).
It remained uncertain whether neurotoxic properties of IL-1 in these
experiments proceeded through autocrine effects of IL-1 on Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia or paracrine effects on recipient microglia, astrocytes and
neurons, as IL-1RA blocked signaling to all cells within the injection
site. Adoptive transfer of activated Cx3cr1
–/–
cells into the CNS of
Il1r1
–/–
recipients demonstrated that defective migration by Cx3cr1
–/–
microglial cells could be partially rescued by abrogation of the host
response to IL-1. In Il1r1
–/–
recipients, transferred Cx3cr1
–/–
microglial
cells remained partially localized at the injection site (Fig. 3f)but
migrating donor-derived GFP
+
cells were readily detected (Fig. 3j)and
were significantly more numerous than in the wild-type recipients of
Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (Fig. 3o; P ¼ 0.04 comparing Il1r1
–/–
and wild-type
recipients of Cx3cr1
–/–
cells). Notably, TUNEL-positive cells were
virtually absent from the CNS of Il1r1
–/–
recipients of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (Fig. 3n,p; P ¼ 0.02 comparing Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia trans-
ferred to wild-type and Il1r1
–/–
mice).
To exclude the possibility that these results emerged from variability
in the placement of the microinjected cells, we performed stereotactic
adoptive transfer experiments. These experiments required that
8-week-old recipients be used, in order to accommodate the stereo-
tactic apparatus (Fig. 4a). We observed that Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia
(Fig. 4b) but not Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia (Fig. 4c)remainedatthe
injection sites. Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia but not
Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia were found migrating
throughout the white matter of recipients
(Fig. 4d,e). Following transfer of Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia but not Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia, we
detected annexin V–positive neurons (com-
pare Figs. 4f and g).
Together, these results established that
CX3CR1 governs critical components of the
microglial response to systemic inflammation
in vivo, as suggested by previous in vitro
studies
8,19
, and that IL-1 is a mediator
of microglial neurotoxicity induced by
systemic inflammation.
SNpc neurons in Cx3cr1
–/–
or Cx3cl1
–/–
mice after MPTP
Microglial neurotoxicity has also been pro-
posed to augment the severity of neurodegen-
erative processes including Parkinson disease.
We addressed a potential role for CX3CR1 in
the microglial reaction to neurodegeneration
by evaluating the responses of gender-matched
littermate Cx3cr1
–/–
, Cx3cr1
+/–
and Cx3cr1
+/+
mice to the administration of the dopaminergic
neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetra-
hydropyridine (MPTP), which recapitulates
selected features of Parkinson disease.
CX3CR1 deficiency aggravated the pathological
outcomes of MPTP injection in mice. We
performed a stereological analysis of the sub-
stantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) of saline-
(Fig. 5ac) and MPTP-injected (Fig. 5di)
Cx3cr1
+/+
and Cx3cr1
–/–
littermate mice 7 d
after challenge (Tab l e 1). We found a signifi-
cant MPTP-induced loss of tyrosine hydroxy-
lase–immunoreactive (TH-IR) cells and a
similar loss of Nissl-stained neurons in the SNpc of Cx3cr1
+/+
mice,
with no change in the percent of Nissl-stained cells that were TH-IR.
The loss of both TH-IR cells and Nissl-stained cells was significantly
(P o 0.001) worse in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (Tabl e 1 ). We also evaluated the
effect of CX3CL1 ligand deficiency in this model: the results were nearly
identical to those observed in receptor-deficient Cx3cr1
–/–
mice
(Table 1 ). Saline-injected mice showed no genotype-related differences
(P ¼ 0.86 for TH-IR cells; P ¼ 0.47 for Nissl-stained cells). Transport
and metabolism of MPTP were not altered in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, as
concentrations of MPTP in the SN were equivalent in heterozygous
and knockout mice, and striatal concentrations of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-
pyridinium (MPP+) were not significantly different, either 90 min or
3 h after injection (data not shown). Inspection of coronal sections of
the SNpc of Cx3cr1
+/–
and Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (Fig. 5j,k) suggested a greater
degree of morphological transformation of knockout microglia, as
compared to those in heterozygous mice, in response to MPTP
injections. Taken together, these results demonstrated that the response
to MPTP in mice lacking microglial CX3CR1 signaling caused greater
loss of TH-IR neurons.
Worsened disease in Cx3cr1
–/–
SOD1
G93A
transgenic mice
Microglial cells have also been implicated in the loss of motor neurons
during the fatal neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclero-
sis (ALS). Transgenic mice that overexpress a mutant form of the
50 µm
Cx3cr1
+/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
50 µm
25 µm
50 µm
50 µm
25 µm
a
c
e
b
d
f
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
+/–
Annexin V–positive cells (mm
2
)
Ratio cytokine/GAPDH
gh
Saline
550
450
250
200
150
100
50
0
300
LPS Saline
0.0012
LPS
IL-6
0
0.15
0.35
LT
IL-1α IL-1β TNF-α TNF-β
Figure 2 Cx3cr1
–/–
mice show increased microglial activation and enhanced neuronal damage after
systemic inflammation. (a,b) IBA-1 immunohistochemistry revealed highly ramified microglia in the
hippocampus of LPS-treated Cx3cr1
+/–
mice (a), compared to increased microglial activation in
Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (b) whose cells have shorter and thicker processes and bigger cell bodies. (cf)AnnexinV
immunostaining showed numerous annexin V–immunoreactive cells in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (d,f:brown
staining, arrows) with the nuclear morphology of neurons, but not in Cx3cr1
+/–
mice. (g) Quantitation of
annexin V–positive cells showed a significant (P ¼ 0.0012) increase of annexin V–positive cells in the
dentate gyrus of Cx3cr1
–/–
mice after LPS administration. (h) RNase protection analysis of RNA from
peritoneal macrophages showed low cytokine levels in saline-injected Cx3cr1
+/–
mice (gray), and equal
responses in LPS-injected Cx3cr1
+/–
(white) and Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (black). Error bars represent s.d.
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human SOD1 gene (SOD1
G93A
) encoding copper/zinc superoxide
dismutase show age-dependent degeneration of motor neurons accom-
panied by limb weakness and provide a useful model of ALS (ref. 20).
We established a colony of mice that were SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
,
SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
, SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
or nontrangenic/Cx3cr1
–/–
,
and performed serial neurobehavioral and survival assessment of
SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
and SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, with histological
analysis of a cohort of surviving mice from all four genotypes at 133 d.
Microglial reaction, as judged by IBA-1 immunohistochemistry,
showed morphological transformation in the lumbar spinal cords of
all transgenic mice (Fig. 6ad), without significant genotype-related
differences in the tissue area showing IBA-1 immunoreactivity (46% in
SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
compared to 39% in SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
mice;
P ¼ 0.12). SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice showed decreased neuronal cell
density at this time point (Figs. 6ei) when compared with either
littermate SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
(P ¼ 0.02) or SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
(P ¼ 0.03) mice (Fig. 6i). Comparisons of neuronal cell density
between transgenic heterozygous and transgenic wild-type mice did
not show statistically significant differences (Fig. 6i; P ¼ 0.09 compar-
ing SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
and SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
mice).
Behavior and survival analyses also revealed differences between
SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
and SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice. Hindlimb grip
strength showed evident decline after 7–9 weeks in all SOD1
G93A
mice,ascomparedtonontransgenic/Cx3cr1
–/–
littermate control mice
*
*
*
*
*
*
180
0
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
GFP
Cx3cr1
+/–
Cx3cr1
+
/
Cx3cr1
/
Cx3cr1
/
Wild-type Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
+ IL-1RA
Cx3cr1
–/–
IL-1RA
Cx3cr1
–/–
carr
ier
Il1r1
–/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
Wild-type
Wild-type
92.10%
g–j
100 µm
100 µm
*
*
*
Counts
10
4
Anterior
Posterior
(IS)
Injection site
Il1r1
–/–
Donor
Recipient
Wild-type
Cx3cr1
+
/
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
–/
IL-1RA
Cx3cr1
–/–
carr
ier
Il1r1
–/–
Donor
Recipient
Wild-type
IL-6
0.02
0.02
0.02
0.03
0.04
Ratio cytokine/GAPDH
Apoptotic neurons
Migrating microglia
2.0
60
20
15
10
5
0
40
20
0
1.0
0
IL-1α IL-1β TNF-α TNF-βLT
a
cdef
ghi j
k
o
p
q
lmn
b
Figure 3 Adoptive transfer studies of microglia by intracranial microinjection. (a) Flow cytometry shows microglial preparations containing 490% GFP
+
cells
(purple overlay, GFP
Cx3cr1
+/+
microglia), used for RNA isolation or adoptive transfer. (b) Recipient brains (shown in axial section) were stained using NeuN
antibodies (blue) and TUNEL (red). (cj) Merged GFP-NeuN images show injection sites within dotted ovals (cf) and points of migration (gj). (kn) Apoptotic
neurons in merged GFP-NeuN-TUNEL images. Cx3cr1
+/–
microglia (c) were not detected at the injection site, but were distributed along white matter tracts
(g, arrows), whereas Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (d) remained localized at injection site, did not distribute throughout the brain (h) and were associated with apoptotic
neurons 60–200 mm from the injection site (i, arrows). When LPS-activated Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia were transferred with IL-1RA into wild-type recipients (e,i,m),
few GFP
+
microglia were found at the injection site (e) and migrating cells were seen (i, arrowhead) without neuronal apoptosis near the injection site (m). In
Il1r1
–/–
recipients (f,j,n), many Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia persisted at the injection site (f), but were also detected at points of migration (j, arrowhead) without
associated neuronal cell death (n) near the injection site. (o) Number of migrating microglia, counted at sites shown in b (asterisks). (p) Apoptotic neurons
were counted in serial sections at a depth of 60–200 mm from the injection site, using transfer preparations and recipients as indicated. Scale bars, 25 mm.
(q) Cytokine profiling by RPA revealed an increased expression of IL-1b by activated Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia. Error bars represent s.d.
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which became stronger as they attained adulthood (data not shown).
Between weeks 15 through 20, when weakness became progressive,
random coefficient modeling disclosed a strong age group interaction
(P o 0.01) indicating that SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice had a faster
decline in hindlimb grip strength than SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/
mice.
With further analysis of the data, we found that the male Cx3cr1
–/–
group showed a much steeper decline (slope ¼ –19.92 ± 2.1 (s.e.m.),
n ¼ 5) than the other groups (male Cx3cr1
+/–
: –6.01 ± 2.5, n ¼ 5; female
Cx3cr1
+/–
: –6.72 ± 3.5, n ¼ 6; and female Cx3cr1
–/–
: –8.41 ± 2.4, n ¼ 7),
accounting for the group differences (Fig. 6j). Male SOD1
G93A
/
Cx3cr1
–/–
mice also showed faster loss of body weight (P o 0.01) and
forelimb grip strength (P ¼ 0.02) than male SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
mice
(data not shown). Using a defined indicator of terminal state and
Kaplan-Meier analysis (Fig. 6k), survival was significantly (log rank P ¼
0.003) reduced in male SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice as compared with
male SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
miceandwithfemaleSOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
or SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice. Notably, there is precedent for a gender
effect in this model, as absence of the p75
NTR
receptor was selectively
beneficial for female, but not male, SOD1
G93A
mice
21
. In the aggregate,
the results of these experiments further supported the role of CX3CR1
as a key regulator of microglial neurotoxicity in the contexts of either
inflammation or neurodegeneration.
DISCUSSION
We demonstrated a role for the chemokine receptor CX3CR1 in
microglial neurotoxicity in three clinically relevant models: CNS
response to systemic inflammation, the MPTP model of Parkinson
disease, and the SOD1
G93A
model of ALS. Based on complementary
expression of CX3CL1 on neurons and CX3CR1 on microglia, it has
been proposed that neuron signaling to microglia might be mediated
through this receptor
1
. Previous in vitro results support this concept:
excitotoxic injury is a potent stimulus for release of CX3CL1 from
cultured neurons
22
; CX3CR1 supports neuronal survival
23
; microglia
cultured with CX3CL1 are protected from Fas-mediated apoptosis
8
;
and CX3CL1 suppresses neuronal cell death in LPS- and IFN-g
stimulated microglial and neuronal cocultures
24
. Our current
findings confirm this hypothesis in vivo and establish models for
investigating mechanisms of microglial neurotoxicity. For example,
we used an adoptive transfer protocol to examine neurotoxic
mechanisms in LPS-injected Cx3cr1
–/–
mice: the GFP reporter was
used to verify purification of relatively large numbers of microglia
that had been activated in vivo, and our results implicated IL-1 in
a
b
c
jk
d
e
f
g
h
i
Saline Cx3cr1
–/–
MPTP Cx3cr1
+/+
Cx3cr1
+/–
MPTP Cx3cr1
–/–
MPTP
MPTP Cx3cr1
–/–
IS
50 µm 50 µm
b
de
fg
c
Cx3cr1
–/–
Wild-type
IS
d,e
Bregma –0.10 mm
Cx3cr1
+/–
Wild-type
Cx3cr1
–/–
Wild-type
Migrating
microglia
Apoptotic
neurons
Cx3cr1
+/–
Wild-type
a
Figure 4 Adoptive transfer studies using stereotaxic placement of microglial
cells. (ag) Thirty-six hours after stereotaxic placement of microglial cells
(a, stereotactic coordinate), recipient brains were analyzed for the presence of
GFP
+
microglia (green microglial cells in b,c; merged GFP–4,6-diamidino-2-
phenylindole (DAPI) images in d,e). Sections were stained for NeuN (blue)
and annexin V (red), shown in merged GFP-NeuN–annexin V images (f,g).
Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia (b) remained clustered at the injection site (dotted oval),
without evidence of migration along white matter or subventricular zones (d),
and apoptotic neurons near the injection site were easily detected
(f, arrowheads). In contrast, Cx3cr1
+/–
microglial clusters were not detected
at the injection site (c), no evident association with neuronal cell death was
observed (g), and these microglia distributed along white matter tracts and
subventricular zones (e). Scale bars in dg,25mm.
Figure 5 Enhanced neurotoxic effects of MPTP in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice.
(ai) Matched sections at the level of the SNpc were TH-immunostained
and counterstained with cresyl violet in saline- (ac) and MPTP-treated
mice (di). Seven days after MPTP administration, we observed a reduction
in the number of TH-IR cells in the SNpc (outlined) of Cx3cr1
+/+
mice
(df), with more pronounced effects in mice lacking CX3CR1 (gi).
(j,k) Immunofluorescent labeling of TH neurons (red) shows decreased
numbers of neurons and robust microglial activation (green) in the SNpc
(arrows) of Cx3cr1
–/–
mice (inset in k, showing high-power confocal imaging
of TH-IR neurons and GFP
+
microglia) compared to Cx3cr1
+/–
mice (inset
in j). Panels ak: same magnification, scale bars 200 mm.
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microglial neurotoxicity following systemic inflammation. We propose
that roles of CX3CR1 in microglial activation will differ depending on
the nature and chronicity of the activating stimulus. For example,
Cx3cr1
–/–
mice show a normal level of microglial activation after
facial nerve axotomy
5
and after laser-induced injury
9
. Furthermore,
Cx3cl1
/
mice show relative protection from cerebral ischemia
25
,and
intrathecal injection of CX3CL1 enhances nociception
26,27
, possibly by
activating microglia.
The molecular foundations of microglial neurotoxicity have been
obscure. Here, we identify CX3CR1 as the first selective regulator of
microglial neurotoxicity in vivo. Mice deficient for CD200, a neuronal
glycoprotein whose receptor, CD200R, is expressed by all myeloid
cells, show aberrant microglial physiology including morphological
activation of microglia in the resting CNS and accelerated response
to facial nerve transection
28,29
. None of these attributes of altered
microglial function are observed in Cx3cr1
–/–
mice
5,7,30
, indicating
different functions for CD200/CD200R and CX3CL1/CX3CR1 in
regulating microglia.
We propose that tonic neuronal release of CX3CL1 provides specific
restraint of microglia in the healthy CNS, where the blood-brain barrier
is intact. In support of this concept, we found 4300 pg of soluble
CX3CL1 per milligram of aqueous extracts of the adult mouse brain
Table 1 Stereological counts of neurons in the SNpc
Saline MPTP 2d MPTP 7d
Wild-type Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cl1
–/–
Wild-type Cx3cr1
–/–
Wild-type Cx3cr1
+/–
Cx3cl1
+/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cl1
–/–
n 44 4 7773 3 77
TH 11,549 ± 612 12,088 ± 752 11,958 ± 851 6,550 ± 640 2,907 ± 551 7,403 ± 632 7,086 ± 900 7,616 ± 1,761 3,564 ± 615 3,728 ± 604
Nissl 15,081 ± 730 13,851 ± 968 16,678 ± 2,506 8,448 ± 1,031 4,295 ± 741 11,309 ± 880 10,258 ± 943 12,829 ± 2,514 6,073 ± 906 6,791 ± 735
SNpc neurons (mean ± s.e.m.) were counted by stereology. P o 0.001 when comparing wild-type mice (saline-treated versus MPTP-treated), and when comparing MPTP-treated groups
(wild-type versus Cx3cr1
–/–
or Cx3cl1
–/–
) at day 2 or day 7 after MPTP administration (ANOVA with Newman-Keuls test).
Cx3cr1
+/+
Cx3cr1
+/–
SOD1
G93A
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
Cx3cr1
+/–
Cx3cr1
–/–
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
0.09
Number of neurons per section
0
14 15 16 17
Age (weeks)
18 19 20
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Male SOD1
G93A
Hindlimb strength (grams)
0
20
40
60
80
100
Percentage at terminal stage
0.03
0.02
i
jk
abcd
ef gh
0 50 100
Age (d)
150 200
Cx3cr1
–/–
Male SOD1
G93A
Cx3cr1
+/–
Male SOD1
G93A
Cx3cr1
–/–
Female SOD1
G93A
Cx3cr1
+/–
Female SOD1
G93A
Figure 6 Microglial activation, neuron loss, hindlimb grip strength and survival in SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1 mice. (ad) IBA-1 immunohistochemistry shows a
progression of resting microglial cells in nontransgenic Cx3cr1
–/–
spinal cord (a) to microglial activation in SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
(b), SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
(c)
and SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
(d) mice. (eh) Nissl staining shows healthy-appearing neurons in nontransgenic spinal cord (e, arrows). In contrast, healthy-
appearing neurons in SOD1
G93A
transgenic mice were fewer in CX3CR1-deficient mice. Many surviving cells showed chromatin condensation (f,g, arrowheads).
No healthy-appearing neurons were observed in the ventral horns of the lumbar spinal cords of SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, and the remaining neuronal nuclei
showed abnormally condensed chromatin (h, arrowheads). (i) Quantitation showed significantly (P ¼ 0.03) more remaining neuronal cells in SOD1
G93A
/
Cx3cr1
+/–
mice than in SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice, and much higher neuronal counts in healthy nontransgenic Cx3cr1
–/–
controls. (j) Graphs of hindlimb grip
strength measurements showing that male SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice lost grip strength more rapidly between weeks 15–18 than did SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
males. (k) Kaplan-Meier survival curves revealed that male SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
mice died sooner than any of the other groups. Scale bars in ah,50mm.
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(data not shown), and others have reported the presence in the CNS of
ADAM10, the catalyst of constitutive CX3CL1 release
31
.Whenthe
blood-brain barrier is disrupted, the roles of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 may be
quite different: as noted above, CX3CL1-deficient mice are moderately
protected from focal ischemic stroke
25
and mice lacking CX3CR1
develop increased disease severity after the induction of experimental
autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)
6
, due at least in part to the
deficient recruitment of regulatory natural killer cells
7
.
The activities of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 in various tissues are remarkably
varied. Recent evidence from animal models implicates CX3CL1 as a
mediator of atherosclerosis
32
, and an allele of CX3CR1 that exerts
impaired adhesive function and blunted signaling is associated with
dominantly inherited, reduced risk for atherosclerotic end points
33
.
Based on these and other findings, efforts to develop pharmacological
inhibitors of CX3CR1 are in progress
34
. Our current findings suggest
that impaired CX3CR1 function in the CNS may worsen neurodegen-
eration. Therefore, agents designed to block CX3CR1 might show en-
hanced safety profiles if they were excluded from the CNS. Further, the
dominantly acting atheroprotective CX3CR1
I249/M280
variant may merit
evaluation as a risk factor for susceptibility or severity in neurodegen-
erative disorders. Finally, the signaling by which CX3CR1 regulates
microglial neurotoxicity in vivo can now be further addressed, as such an
effort may lead to new therapeutic strategies for neuroprotection.
METHODS
Mice. Cx3cl1
+/+
, Cx3cl1
–/–
, Cx3cr1
–/–
, Cx3cr1
+/–
and Cx3cr1
+/+
mice were
generated from heterozygous breeding pairs, backcrossed for more than
10 generations to C57BL/6 (refs. 2,5). Experimental protocols were performed
in accordance with US National Institutes of Health guidelines on animal care
and were approved by the Cleveland Clinic Animal Care and Use Committee.
Lineage marker analyses of the CX3CR1-GFP
+
population in the CNS.
Cx3cr1
+/–
mice were perfused and 30-mm sections were stained with rabbit
polyclonal antibody to IBA-1 (anti–IBA-1), antibody to NG2 (anti-NG2) or
antibody to GFAP (anti-GFAP), followed by Cy3-conjugated secondary anti-
bodies (mounted in FluorSave, Calbiochem). For IBA-1 and GFAP stainings,
sections were incubated overnight at 4 1C. For NG2 staining, sections were
incubated with primary antibody (gift from W. Stallcup) at room temperature
(22 1C) for 5 h, followed by incubation at 4 1C for 48 h. Sections were imaged
by confocal microscopy, and projections of 20-mm z-stacks at 40 magnifica-
tion are shown.
Induction and analysis of systemic inflammation by lipopolyssacharide
administration. Mice were injected daily (i.p.) for 4 d with LPS (Sigma;
20 mgin100ml phosphate-buffered saline, PBS) or mock-injected with PBS.
Four hours after final injection, mice were killed and peritoneal cells were
aspirated with Hanks Balanced Salt Solution(HBSS), washed and resuspended
in TRIZOL (Invitrogen). RNA was extracted and subjected to RPA with
32
P-labeled antisense riboprobes (BD Pharmingen) with results for each
cytokine normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH)
signals in two independent experiments. Sections from LPS- or saline-injected
mice were stained with rabbit polyclonal anti–IBA-1 or antibody to annexin V
(Novus Biologicals), counterstained with 0.5% cresyl violet (Sigma), and
positive cells in the dentate gyrus were counted at 40 magnification in
6–8 matched 30-mm sagittal sections. Results are presented as annexin
V–positive cells per mm
2
, with areas measured from 10 images using Image
J.1.34vi software (National Institutes of Health).
Isolation of microglial cells, RNase protection and flow cytometry. After
perfusion in HBSS without Ca
2+
and Mg
2+
, brains were collected in 10 ml
HBSS per brain, containing 0.05% collagenase D (Roche), 0.1 mgml
–1
N-tosyl-
L-leucine chloromethyl ketone (TLCK, Sigma), 10 mgml
–1
dispase (Roche) and
10 mM HEPES buffer (Invitrogen). Brain tissues were dispersed with a glass
dounce homogenizer, and cells were separated over discontinuous per-
coll gradients (Supplementary Methods online). Cells were washed and
resuspended in TRIZOL for RNA extraction. RNA was assessed using a
Bioanalyzer (Affymetrix). Representative cytokines were determined by RPA
as described for peritoneal cells. For flow cytometry, cells were diluted in PBS
(4 10
5
cells ml
–1
), and GFP
+
cells were acquired on an LSR (BD Immuno-
cytometry), gated by forward and side light-scattering properties and analyzed
with WinList software (Verity Software).
Adoptive transfer of microglia. For intracranial microinjections, microglia
were resuspended at 8 10
6
cells ml
–1
(Supplementary Methods) and trans-
ferred within 30 min of isolation. Recipient mice (4–5 weeks old) were
anesthetized with ketamine (30 mg per kg body weight) and xylazine (4 mg
per kg body weight) and injected intracranially with a 60-mlcellsuspension
(B5 10
5
cells). Using 1-ml syringes, 25-gauge 5/8’’ needles were inserted to a
2-mm depth in the frontal cortex with handmade needle-cap adaptors. C57BL/
6 recipients received Cx3cr1
+/–
,orCx3cr1
–/–
microglia alone or with 3 ng of
IL-1RA or human albumin carrier protein. Il1r1
–/–
mice received Cx3cr1
–/–
microglia. Sections were analyzed by confocal microscopy (GFP/NeuN-Cy5/
TUNEL-rhodamine). Microglia and apoptotic neurons were counted in four
high-power fields (HPF) per section (4 sections per mouse, n ¼ 4miceper
group), and results are shown as number of cells per HPF. For stereotactic
placement of microglia, recipient mice 8–10 weeks old were anesthetized with
ketamine (200 mg per kg body weight) and xylazine (10 mg per kg body
weight), and heads were secured in a stereotaxic head frame (Kopf Instru-
ments). A 10-ml Hamilton syringe with a 29-gauge needle was inserted into the
left motor cortex through a small hole drilled through the skull. Cells (2–3
10
5
cells in 10 ml) were injected at a flow rate of 1 mlmin
–1
at the following
coordinates anteroposterior, –0.12 mm; lateral, 1.7 mm; dorsoventral, 2 mm.
After completion, the needle was left in place for 5 min, then withdrawn at
0.2 mm min
–1
. Brains were removed 36 h after transfer, sectioned serially from
the level of the injection site to a depth of 1,000 mm and double-stained for
NeuN and TUNEL or annexin V.
Administration of MPTP and analysis of effects. Male mice, 8–10 weeks old
and weighing 22–28 g, were injected i.p. four times at 1-h intervals with saline
or MPTP (Sigma; 10 mg per kg body weight) and killed 2 d or 7 d after
injection. Brains were serially sectioned through the substantia nigra and
stained with antibody to TH (Chemicon) followed by Cy3-conjugated or
biotinylated secondary antibodies; this was followed by diaminobenzidine
(DAB) substrate development and cresyl violet counterstaining. Confocal
images of TH
+
neurons and GFP
+
microglia were obtained in 25-mm z-stacks.
We counted the number of TH-IR and Nissl-stained SNpc neurons in seven
mice per group, using the optical fractionator method
35,36
(Supplementary
Methods). The total number of SNpc neurons was calculated as the product of
neuron (TH-IR or Nissl-stained) densities and the volume of the SNpc (ref. 36).
Generation and analysis of SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1 mice. Male G93A-SOD1
mutation (SOD1
G93A
)transgenicmice
20
from Jackson Laboratories were bred
with Cx3cr1
–/–
females. F1 nontransgenic/Cx3cr1
–/–
or nontransgenic/Cx3cr1
+/–
females were bred with SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
males to produce F2 SOD1
G93A
/
Cx3cr1
–/–
, SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
, SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/+
and nontransgenic/
Cx3cr1
–/–
mice.
Limb strength was assessed between the ages of 7 and 23 weeks (n ¼ 6–20
per group) as described
37
. Survival was recorded for each SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
and SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
mouse, with the terminal stage defined by righting
response Z 20 s.
Histopathology was analyzed at 133 d in terminal SOD1
G93A
mice and in
four age-matched nontransgenic SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
littermates. Motor neu-
rons in lumbar spinal cords were counted in Nissl-stained sections, and
microglial cells were visualized by IBA-1 immunohistochemistry. The area
occupied by IBA-1 immunoreactivity was obtained using Image J. 1.34vi
software, in six images acquired at 20 from three spinal cords per mouse
(n ¼ 5micepergroup).
Statistics. We used analysis of variance (ANOVA) to analyze numbers of
annexin V–positive cells after LPS administration, neuronal apoptosis in the
adoptive transfer experiments and motor neuron counts and microglial area in
spinal cords of SOD transgenic mice. Cytokine analyses by RPA were compared
using Student’s t-test. The numbers of TH-IR and Nissl-stained neurons in the
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SNpc were determined by stereology and compared by ANOVA with Newman-
Keuls post-test. Behavior data (body weight, forelimb grip strength and
hindlimb grip strength) were collected for males and females in three groups
of mice, SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
+/–
, SOD1
G93A
/Cx3cr1
–/–
and nontransgenic
Cx3cr1
–/–
, with separate analyses of data from weeks 9 to 14 and weeks 15 to
20. We used a random coefficient mixed model to estimate the effects of
genotype, gender and age (Supplementary Methods).
Note: Supplementary information is available on the Nature Neuroscience website.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We acknowledge B. Trapp (Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland) for IBA-1 antibodies,
W. Stallcup (Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California) for NG-2 antibodies,
C. Canasto (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York) for technical assistance
with CX3CL1 mice, R. Zhang (Mass Spectrometry Core II, Cleveland Clinic) for
assistance with MPP+ measurements, C. Shemo (Flow Cytometry Core, Cleveland
Clinic) for assistance with flow cytometry, and J. Drazba (Lerner Research Institute
Imaging Core, Cleveland Clinic) for assistance with confocal microscopy. R.H.
Miller (Case Medical School, Cleveland) provided helpful comments about the
manuscript. This work was supported by the US National Institute of Health
(NS32151), the Charles A. Dana Foundation, the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society (fellowship FG1528-A-1 to A.C.), the Robert Packard Foundation for
ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University and the Boye Foundation.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
A.E.C. performed the experimental design of the LPS and MPTP models, and
carried out the microglia isolation, tissue staining and microglial transfer
experiments. E.P.P. and V.K. carried out the experiments with SOD
G93A
transgenic mice and assisted with manuscript preparation. M.E.S. and S.M.C.
assisted in the maintenance of the mouse colony, genotyping, histopathological
staining and neuronal counting. I.M.D. assisted in the development of the
stereotaxic protocol. D.H. collaborated in the colocalization of lineage markers
with the GFP reporter. G.K. assisted with the confocal analyses and imaging.
S.D. assisted with stereology methods. R.D. collaborated in the analysis of the
gene expression data from nuclease protection assays. J.-C.L. performed the
statistical analyses for all experiments. D.N.C., S.J., S.A.L. and D.R.L. generated
the highly inbred receptor- and ligand-deficient mouse strains, and assisted with
the experimental design and manuscript preparation. R.M.R. provided the basis
for the development of the experimental designs. A.E.C. and R.M.R. analyzed
the data, interpreted the results and prepared the manuscript.
COMPETING INTERESTS STATEMENT
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
Published online at http://www.nature.com/natureneuroscience
Reprints and permissions information is available online at http://npg.nature.com/
reprintsandpermissions/
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924 VOLUME 9
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NUMBER 7
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JULY 2006 NATURE NEUROSCIENCE
ARTICLES
© 2006 Nature Publishing Group http://www.nature.com/natureneuroscience
... This chemokine is expressed from brain neurons that control activation of microglia through its binding receptor CX3CR1. In harmful conditions, neurons release fractalkine in order to stimulate proliferation, activation and migration at the site of the brain injury [87,88]. CX3CL1-KO mice showed altered microglial function and neurotoxicity following LPS injection as well as more neuronal damage in Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [88]. ...
... In harmful conditions, neurons release fractalkine in order to stimulate proliferation, activation and migration at the site of the brain injury [87,88]. CX3CL1-KO mice showed altered microglial function and neurotoxicity following LPS injection as well as more neuronal damage in Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [88]. In accordance with this, Sokolowki et al. (2014) found that CX3CL1-KO mice revealed signals of neuronal apoptosis after ethanol treatment, suggesting a role in the clearance of those apoptotic cells [86]. ...
Article
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(1) Background: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is associated with functional disruption of several brain structures that may trigger cognitive dysfunction. One of the mechanisms of alcohol-associated cognitive impairment has been proposed to arise from its direct impact on the immune system, which culminates in the release of cytokines and chemokines which can eventually reach the brain. Alcohol can also disrupt the blood–brain barrier, facilitating the penetration of pro-inflammatory molecules throughout vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA). Thus, alcohol-induced alterations in chemokines and VEGFA might contribute to the neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment associated with AUD. (2) Methods: The present cross-sectional study investigates whether patients with AUD (n = 86) present cognitive disability associated to alterations in plasma concentration of SDF-1, fractalkine, eotaxin, MCP-1, MIP-1α and VEGFA when compared to control subjects (n = 51). (3) Results: The analysis indicated that SDF-1 and MCP-1 concentrations were higher in AUD patients than in controls. Concentrations of VEGFA were higher in AUD patients with severe frontal deficits, and the score of frontal lobe functions was negatively correlated with VEGFA and fractalkine. Acute alcohol effects on VEGFA plasma levels in healthy volunteers demonstrated the induction of VEGFA release by heavy alcohol drinking. VEGFA was positively correlated with pro-inflammatory chemokines in AUD patients with frontal cognitive impairment. (4) Conclusions: we propose VEGFA/chemokine monitoring as biomarkers of potential cognitive impairment in AUD patients.
... At baseline, Cx3cr1 CreER mice showed higher levels of activation when compared with WT (Bin1 fl/fl ) mice. The LPS response captured by PC2 was most pronounced in Cx3cr1 CreER mice, consistent with the previous characterization that signaling through CX3CR1 controls microglial activation [61]. Interestingly, the loss of Bin1 mitigated the heightened LPS response elicited by Cx3cr1 haploinsufficiency. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background The BIN1 locus contains the second-most significant genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. BIN1 undergoes alternate splicing to generate tissue- and cell-type-specific BIN1 isoforms, which regulate membrane dynamics in a range of crucial cellular processes. Whilst the expression of BIN1 in the brain has been characterized in neurons and oligodendrocytes in detail, information regarding microglial BIN1 expression is mainly limited to large-scale transcriptomic and proteomic data. Notably, BIN1 protein expression and its functional roles in microglia, a cell type most relevant to Alzheimer’s disease, have not been examined in depth. Methods Microglial BIN1 expression was analyzed by immunostaining mouse and human brain, as well as by immunoblot and RT-PCR assays of isolated microglia or human iPSC-derived microglial cells. Bin1 expression was ablated by siRNA knockdown in primary microglial cultures in vitro and Cre-lox mediated conditional deletion in adult mouse brain microglia in vivo. Regulation of neuroinflammatory microglial signatures by BIN1 in vitro and in vivo was characterized using NanoString gene panels and flow cytometry methods. The transcriptome data was explored by in silico pathway analysis and validated by complementary molecular approaches. Results Here, we characterized microglial BIN1 expression in vitro and in vivo and ascertained microglia expressed BIN1 isoforms. By silencing Bin1 expression in primary microglial cultures, we demonstrate that BIN1 regulates the activation of proinflammatory and disease-associated responses in microglia as measured by gene expression and cytokine production. Our transcriptomic profiling revealed key homeostatic and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammatory response pathways, as well as transcription factors PU.1 and IRF1 that are regulated by BIN1. Microglia-specific Bin1 conditional knockout in vivo revealed novel roles of BIN1 in regulating the expression of disease-associated genes while counteracting CX3CR1 signaling. The consensus from in vitro and in vivo findings showed that loss of Bin1 impaired the ability of microglia to mount type 1 interferon responses to proinflammatory challenge, particularly the upregulation of a critical type 1 immune response gene, Ifitm3 . Conclusions Our convergent findings provide novel insights into microglial BIN1 function and demonstrate an essential role of microglial BIN1 in regulating brain inflammatory response and microglial phenotypic changes. Moreover, for the first time, our study shows a regulatory relationship between Bin1 and Ifitm3 , two Alzheimer’s disease-related genes in microglia. The requirement for BIN1 to regulate Ifitm3 upregulation during inflammation has important implications for inflammatory responses during the pathogenesis and progression of many neurodegenerative diseases. Graphical Abstract
... From the perspective of neurogenesis, microglia were found to selectively engulf synapses based on specific chemokine signals such as CR3/CX3CL1. CX3CL1 interacts with its receptor, fractalkine, specifically expressed on neurons, and thus activates microglia by phagocytosis (Cardona et al., 2006;Paolicelli et al., 2011). This process is important for maintaining an adequate number of synapses and to promote the formation of neuronal circuits. ...
Article
Full-text available
Stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality, and survivors experience serious neurological and motor behavioral deficiencies. Following a cerebral ischemic event, substantial alterations in both cellular and molecular activities occur because of ischemia/reperfusion injury. Wnt signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that has been manifested to play a key role in embryo development and function maintenance in adults. Overactivation of Wnt signaling has previously been investigated in cancer-based research studies. Recently, abnormal Wnt signaling activity has been observed in ischemic stroke, which is accompanied by massive blood–brain barrier (BBB) disruption, neuronal apoptosis, and neuroinflammation within the central nervous system (CNS). Significant therapeutic effects were observed after reactivating the adynamic signaling activity of canonical Wnt signaling in different cell types. To better understand the therapeutic potential of Wnt as a novel target for stroke, we reviewed the role of Wnt signaling in the pathogenesis of stroke in different cell types, including endothelial cells, neurons, oligodendrocytes, and microglia. A comprehensive understanding of Wnt signaling among different cells may help to evaluate its potential value for the development of novel therapeutic strategies based on Wnt activation that can ameliorate complications and improve functional rehabilitation after ischemic stroke.
Article
Aims: Phagocytosis is the cellular digestion of extracellular particles, such as pathogens and dying cells, and is a key element in the evolution of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Microglia and macrophages are the professional phagocytes of the CNS. By clearing toxic cellular debris and reshaping the extracellular matrix, microglia/macrophages help pilot the brain repair and functional recovery process. However, CNS resident and invading immune cells can also magnify tissue damage by igniting runaway inflammation and phagocytosing stressed-but viable-neurons. Discussion: Microglia/macrophages help mediate intercellular communication and react quickly to the "find-me" signals expressed by dead/dying neurons. The activated microglia/macrophages then migrate to the injury site to initiate the phagocytic process upon encountering "eat-me" signals on the surfaces of endangered cells. Thus, healthy cells attempt to avoid inappropriate engulfment by expressing "do not-eat-me" signals. Microglia/macrophages also have the capacity to phagocytose immune cells that invade the injured brain (e.g., neutrophils) and to regulate their pro-inflammatory properties. During brain recovery, microglia/macrophages engulf myelin debris, initiate synaptogenesis and neurogenesis, and sculpt a favorable extracellular matrix to support network rewiring, among other favorable roles. Here, we review the multilayered nature of phagocytotic microglia/macrophages, including the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern microglia/macrophage-induced phagocytosis in acute brain injury, and discuss strategies that tap into the therapeutic potential of this engulfment process. Conclusion: Identification of biological targets that can temper neuroinflammation after brain injury without hindering the essential phagocytic functions of microglia/macrophages will expedite better medical management of the stroke recovery stage.
Article
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Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by unrelenting neurodegeneration, which causes cumulative disability and is refractory to current treatments. Drug development to prevent disease progression is an urgent clinical need yet is constrained by an incomplete understanding of its complex pathogenesis. Using spatial transcriptomics and proteomics on fresh-frozen human MS brain tissue, we identified multicellular mechanisms of progressive MS pathogenesis and traced their origin in relation to spatially distributed stages of neurodegeneration. By resolving ligand–receptor interactions in local microenvironments, we discovered defunct trophic and anti-inflammatory intercellular communications within areas of early neuronal decline. Proteins associated with neuronal damage in patient samples showed mechanistic concordance with published in vivo knockdown and central nervous system (CNS) disease models, supporting their causal role and value as potential therapeutic targets in progressive MS. Our findings provide a new framework for drug development strategies, rooted in an understanding of the complex cellular and signaling dynamics in human diseased tissue that facilitate this debilitating disease. By complementing spatial transcriptomics with high-resolution proteomics, Kaufmann et al. tracked a gradient of disease severity across the brains of patients with progressive multiple sclerosis, uncovering new therapeutic opportunities to slow disease.
Article
Both hypothalamic microglial inflammation and melanocortin pathway dysfunction contribute to diet-induced obesity (DIO) pathogenesis. Previous studies involving models of altered microglial signaling demonstrate altered DIO susceptibility with corresponding POMC neuron cytological changes, suggesting a link between microglia and the melanocortin system. We addressed this hypothesis using the specific microglial silencing molecule, CX3CL1 (fractalkine), to determine whether reducing hypothalamic microglial activation can restore POMC/melanocortin signaling to protect against DIO. We performed metabolic analyses in high fat diet (HFD)-fed mice with targeted viral overexpression of CX3CL1 in the hypothalamus. Electrophysiologic recording in hypothalamic slices from POMC-MAPT-GFP mice was used to determine the effects of HFD feeding and microglial silencing via minocycline or CX3CL1 on GFP-labeled POMC neurons. Finally, mice with hypothalamic overexpression of CX3CL1 received central treatment with the melanocortin receptor antagonist SHU9119 to determine whether melanocortin signaling is required for the metabolic benefits of CX3CL1. Hypothalamic overexpression of CX3CL1 increased leptin sensitivity and POMC gene expression, while reducing weight gain in animals fed an HFD. In electrophysiological recordings from hypothalamic slice preparations, HFD feeding was associated with reduced POMC neuron excitability and increased amplitude of inhibitory postsynaptic currents. Microglial silencing using minocycline or CX3CL1 treatment reversed these HFD-induced changes in POMC neuron electrophysiologic properties. Correspondingly, blockade of melanocortin receptor signaling in vivo prevented both the acute and chronic reduction in food intake and body weight mediated by CX3CL1. Our results show that suppressing microglial activation during HFD feeding reduces DIO susceptibility via a mechanism involving increased POMC neuron excitability and melanocortin signaling.
Article
The intestinal tract is a complex ecosystem where numerous cell types of epithelial, immune, neuronal, and endothelial origin coexist in an intertwined, highly organized manner. The functional equilibrium of the intestine relies heavily on the proper crosstalk and cooperation among each cell population. Furthermore, macrophages are versatile, innate immune cells that participate widely in the modulation of inflammation and tissue remodeling. Emerging evidence suggest that macrophages are central in orchestrating tissue homeostasis. Herein, we describe how macrophages interact with epithelial cells, neurons, and other types of mesenchymal cells under the context of intestinal inflammation, followed by the therapeutic implications of cellular crosstalk pertaining to the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. This review focuses on how macrophages regulate intestine inflammation through cross‐talking with epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells in the gut.
Article
Microglia have been implicated in multiple sclerosis (MS) pathogenesis. The fractalkine receptor CX3CR1 limits the activation of pathogenic microglia and the human polymorphic CX3CR1I249/M280 (hCX3CR1I249/M280 ) variant increases disease progression in models of MS. However, the role of hCX3CR1I249/M280 variant on microglial activation and central nervous system repair mechanisms remains unknown. Therefore, using transgenic mice expressing the hCX3CR1I249/M280 variant, we aimed to determine the contribution of defective CX3CR1 signaling to neuroinflammation and remyelination in the cuprizone model of focal demyelination. Here, we report that mice expressing hCX3CR1I249/M280 exhibit marked demyelination and microgliosis following acute cuprizone treatment. Nanostring gene expression analysis in demyelinated lesions showed that hCX3CR1I249/M280 but not CX3CR1-deficient mice up-regulated the cuprizone-induced gene profile linked to inflammatory, oxidative stress, and phagocytic pathways. Although CX3CR1-deficient (CX3CR1-KO) and fractalkine-deficient (FKN-KO) mice displayed a comparable demyelination and microglial activation phenotype to hCX3CR1I249/M280 mice, only CX3CR1-deficient and CX3CR1-WT mice showed significant myelin recovery 1 week from cuprizone withdrawal. Confocal microscopy showed that hCX3CR1I249/M280 variant inhibits the generation of cells involved in myelin repair. Our results show that defective fractalkine signaling contributes to regional differences in demyelination, and suggest that the CX3CR1 pathway activity may be a key mechanism for limiting toxic gene responses in neuroinflammation.
Article
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelium loss often complicated by neovascularization and is one of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss worldwide. However, the precise pathophysiology of AMD remains to date unclear, and there is a dearth of effective therapies for the early stages of the disease. A growing body of evidence has identified microglia-mediated neuroinflammation as a key driver of neuronal damage in AMD, presenting a novel avenue for the development of pharmacological agents targeting this cell population. The local microglial response interacts with other glia as well as engages in crosstalk with peripheral immunological niches. This article presents a review of the current evidence regarding the involvement of glia in the pathophysiology of AMD, an overview of the key immune circuits and effector mechanisms shown to be active in AMD, and potential therapeutic avenues targeting glial involvement.
Article
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An important role for CX(3)CL1 in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration has been suggested in recent publications. In this study, we compared the expression of CX(3)CL1 and its receptor CX(3)CR1 in human brain tissue derived from control patients without neurological complications and in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Results from this study demonstrate that CX(3)CL1 is constitutively expressed in human central nervous system (CNS) astrocytes in vivo and under basal conditions in human adult astrocyte cultures. CX(3)CR1 is expressed on astrocytes and microglial cells both in vivo and in vitro. Chernotaxis assay shows a functional response upon CX(3)CR1 signaling in microglial cells. Although CX(3)CL1 expression is upregulated in cultured astrocytes in response to proinflammatory cytokines, no evidence for expression differences of CX(3)CL1 between control patients and MS patients was found. Our data suggest that CX(3)CL1 has more general physiological functions, which occur also in the absence of proinflammatory conditions.
Article
Full-text available
The hallmark of early atherosclerosis is the accumulation of lipid-laden macrophages in the subendothelial space. Circulating monocytes are the precursors of these "foam cells," and recent evidence suggests that chemokines play important roles in directing monocyte migration from the blood to the vessel wall. Fractalkine (FK) is a structurally unusual chemokine that can act either as a soluble chemotactic factor or as a transmembrane-anchored adhesion receptor for circulating leukocytes. A polymorphism in the FK receptor, CX(3)CR1, has been linked to a decrease in the incidence of coronary artery disease. To determine whether FK is critically involved in atherogenesis, we deleted the gene for CX(3)CR1 and crossed these mice into the apoE(-/-) background. Here we report that FK is robustly expressed in lesional smooth muscle cells, but not macrophages, in apoE(-/-) mice on a high-fat diet. CX(3)CR1(-/-) mice have a significant reduction in macrophage recruitment to the vessel wall and decreased atherosclerotic lesion formation. Taken together, these data provide strong evidence that FK plays a key role in atherogenesis.
Article
Full-text available
The seven-transmembrane receptor CX3CR1 is a specific receptor for the novel CX3C chemokine fractalkine (FKN) (neurotactin). In vitro data suggest that membrane anchoring of FKN, and the existence of a shed, soluble FKN isoform allow for both adhesive and chemoattractive properties. Expression on activated endothelium and neurons defines FKN as a potential target for therapeutic intervention in inflammatory conditions, particularly central nervous system diseases. To investigate the physiological function of CX3CR1-FKN interactions, we generated a mouse strain in which the CX3CR1 gene was replaced by a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene. In addition to the creation of a mutant CX3CR1 locus, this approach enabled us to assign murine CX3CR1 expression to monocytes, subsets of NK and dendritic cells, and the brain microglia. Analysis of CX3CR1-deficient mice indicates that CX3CR1 is the only murine FKN receptor. Yet, defying anticipated FKN functions, absence of CX3CR1 interferes neither with monocyte extravasation in a peritonitis model nor with DC migration and differentiation in response to microbial antigens or contact sensitizers. Furthermore, a prominent response of CX3CR1-deficient microglia to peripheral nerve injury indicates unimpaired neuronal-glial cross talk in the absence of CX3CR1.
Conference Paper
Recently developed stereological methods for counting neurons have a number of advantages over previously available stereological methods. These methods are most aptly referred to as 'design-based' because, in contrast to their predecessors, the probes and the sampling schemes that define the newer methods are 'designed', that is, defined a priori, in such a manner that one need not take into consideration the size, shape, orientation, and distribution of the objects to be counted. The elimination of the need for information about the geometry of the objects to be counted results in more robust data regarding estimates of total neuron number and neuronal loss because potential sources of systematic errors in the calculations are eliminated. In this article I will describe the salient features of the newer, design-based, methods and why they represent improvements over previously available methods.
Article
Fractalkine is a recently identified chemokine that exhibits cell adhesion and chemoattractive properties. It represents a unique member of the chemokine superfamily because it is located predominantly in the brain in which it is expressed constitutively on specific subsets of neurons. To elucidate the possible role of neuronally expressed fractalkine in the inflammatory response to neuronal injury, we have analyzed the regulation of fractalkine mRNA expression and protein cleavage under conditions of neurotoxicity. We observed that mRNA encoding fractalkine is unaffected by experimental ischemic stroke (permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion) in the rat. Similarly, in vitro, levels of fractalkine mRNA were unaffected by ensuing excitotoxicity. However, when analyzed at the protein level, we found that fractalkine is rapidly cleaved from cultured neurons in response to an excitotoxic stimulus. More specifically, fractalkine cleavage preceded actual neuronal death by 2-3 hr, and, when evaluated functionally, fractalkine represented the principal chemokine released from the neurons into the culture medium upon an excitotoxic stimulus to promote chemotaxis of primary microglial and monocytic cells. We further demonstrate that cleavage of neuron-derived, chemoattractive fractalkine can be prevented by inhibition of matrix metalloproteases. These data strongly suggest that dynamic proteolytic cleavage of fractalkine from neuronal membranes in response to a neurotoxic insult, and subsequent chemoattraction of reactive immune cells, may represent an early event in the inflammatory response to neuronal injury.
Article
hSOD1 (G93A) transgenic mice develop pathological changes similar to those in patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS). In particular, the progressive degeneration of motoneurons is charactered in this mouse model. One feature of stressed motoneurons in ALS and the hSOD1 mice is the induction of the p75 neurotrophin receptor, which is thought, under certain circumstances, to be a death‐signaling molecule. We have studied disease progression of hSOD1 (G93A) mice in the absence of the p75NTR receptor and we monitored histological changes in the ventral spinal cord. Whereas female double transgenics showed prolonged survival, this effect was not observed in males. Improved survival in female mice was not correlated with increased motoneuronal survival, but with less astrocytic activation in lumbar ventral spinal cord, as shown by glial fibrillary acidic protein immunohistochemistry. These data suggest that p75NTR is not directly involved in the mechanism leading to motoneuron degeneration. More likely, an indirect process, presumably via regulation of astrocytes, might be responsible for the increased survival responses of female double transgenic mice.