Astrocytes remove glutamate from the synaptic cleft via specific transporters, and impaired glutamate reuptake may promote excitotoxic neuronal injury. In a model of viral encephalomyelitis caused by neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), mice develop acute paralysis and spinal motor neuron degeneration inhibited by the AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX. To investigate disrupted glutamate homeostasis in the spinal cord, expression of the main astroglial glutamate transporter, GLT-1, was examined. GLT-1 levels declined in the spinal cord during acute infection while GFAP expression was preserved. There was simultaneous production of inflammatory cytokines at this site, and susceptible animals treated with drugs that blocked IL-1β release also limited paralysis and prevented the loss of GLT-1 expression. Conversely, infection of resistant mice that develop mild paralysis following NSV challenge showed higher baseline GLT-1 levels as well as lower production of IL-1β and relatively preserved GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord compared to susceptible hosts. Finally, spinal cord GLT-1 expression was largely maintained following infection of IL-1β-deficient animals. Together, these data show that IL-1β inhibits astrocyte glutamate transport in the spinal cord during viral encephalomyelitis. They provide one of the strongest in vivo links between innate immune responses and the development of excitotoxicity demonstrated to date.
glutamate transporters; interleukin-1β; viral encephalomyelitis; motor neuron; excitotoxicity
Spread of neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) to motor neurons (MN) of the spinal cord (SC) causes severe hind limb weakness in C57BL/6 mice and models the paralysis that can accompany alphavirus and flavivirus encephalomyelitis in humans. The fate of spinal MN dictates the severity of NSV-induced paralysis, and recent data suggest that MN damage can occur indirectly via the actions of activated microglial cells. Because the opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone (NAL), blocks microglial-mediated neurodegeneration in other models, we examined its effects during NSV infection. Drug treatment prevented paralysis and enhanced the survival of MN without altering NSV tropism, replication, or clearance from SC tissue. Further studies showed that NAL most effectively inhibited paralysis in a 72-hour window after NSV challenge, suggesting that the drug inhibits an early event in SC pathogenesis. Histochemical studies demonstrated that NAL blocked early microglial activation in SC tissue sections, and protein assays showed that the early induction of pathogenic IL-1β was blunted in SC homogenates. Finally, loss of glutamate transporter-1 (GLT-1) expression in SC, an astrocyte glutamate reuptake protein responsible for lowering toxic extracellular levels of glutamate and preventing MN damage, was reversed by NAL treatment. This GLT-1 loss proved to be highly IL-1β-dependent. Taken together, these data suggest that NAL is neuroprotective in the SC by inhibiting microglial activation that, in turn, maintains normal astrocyte glutamate homeostasis. We propose that drugs targeting such microglial responses may have therapeutic benefit in humans with related viral infections.
Neuroprotection; viral encephalitis; motor neurons; microglial activation; IL-1β; Glutamate transporter-1
Infection of adult mice with neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) results in a severe encephalomyelitis accompanied by prominent hindlimb paralysis. We find that the onset of paralysis parallels morphologic changes in motor neuron cell bodies in the lumbar spinal cord and in motor neuron axons in ventral nerve roots, many of which are eventually lost over time. However, unlike NSV-induced neuronal cell death found in the brain of infected animals, the loss of motor neurons does not appear to be apoptotic, as judged by morphologic and biochemical criteria. This may be explained in part by the lack of detectable caspase-3 expression in these cells.
Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) causes acute encephalitis and paralyzes and kills adult mice unless they are treated with primary immune serum after infection. To study the nature and specificity of curative antibodies, we gave mice 30 different monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against Sindbis virus (SV) 24 h after lethal intracerebral inoculation of NSV. By the time of MAb treatment, NSV replication in the brain had been well established (7.5 X 10(7) PFU/g). Seventeen MAbs directed against multiple biological domains on the NSV E1 and E2 envelope glycoproteins prevented paralysis and death. Anticapsid MAbs failed to protect. Altogether, 15 of 17 curative MAbs either neutralized NSV infectivity or lysed NSV-infected cells with complement, but neither ability was necessary or sufficient to guarantee recovery. All 5 protective anti-E2 MAbs neutralized NSV infectivity; 6 of 10 protective anti-E1 MAbs neutralized NSV; 4 did not. Plaque assay or immunohistochemical staining showed that neutralizing and nonneutralizing curative MAbs decreased NSV in the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. Despite high neutralization titers, hyperimmune anti-SV and anti-NSV mouse sera prevented only 6 and 30% of deaths, respectively, while primary immune sera prevented 50 (SV) and 90% (NSV) of deaths. Secondary intravenous immunization with a live virus apparently diminished, obscured, or failed to boost a class of protective antibodies. When separate mouse groups were given these 30 MAbs 24 h before lethal intracerebral inoculation of NSV, a slightly different set of 17 neutralizing or nonneutralizing anti-E1 and anti-E2 antibodies protected. Two nonneutralizing MAbs and hyperimmune anti-SV serum, which had failed to promote recovery, prophylactically protected 100% of the mice. The antibody requirements or mechanisms of prophylaxis and recovery may differ.
The astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1, is responsible for the vast majority of glutamate uptake in the adult central nervous system (CNS), thereby regulating extracellular glutamate homeostasis and preventing excitotoxicity. Glutamate dysregulation plays a central role in outcome following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). To determine the role of GLT1 in secondary cell loss following SCI, mice heterozygous for the GLT1 astrocyte glutamate transporter (GLT1+/−) and wild-type mice received thoracic crush SCI. Compared to wild-type controls, GLT1+/− mice had an attenuated recovery in hindlimb motor function, increased lesion size, and decreased tissue sparing. GLT1+/− mice showed a decrease in intraspinal GLT1 protein and functional glutamate uptake compared to wild-type mice, accompanied by increased apoptosis and neuronal loss following crush injury. These results suggest that astrocyte GLT1 plays a role in limiting secondary cell death following SCI, and also show that compromise of key astrocyte functions has significant effects on outcome following traumatic CNS injury. These findings also suggest that increasing intraspinal GLT1 expression may represent a therapeutically relevant target for SCI treatment.
secondary injury; GLT1+/− mice; crush injury; glutamate uptake; excitotoxicity
Cellular proteins that regulate apoptotic cell death can modulate the outcome of Sindbis virus (SV) encephalitis in mice. Both endogenous and overexpressed BCL-2 and BAX proteins protect newborn mice from fatal SV infection by blocking apoptosis in infected neurons. To determine the effects of these cellular factors on the course of infection in older animals, a more neurovirulent SV vector (dsNSV) was constructed from a viral strain that causes both prominent spinal cord infection with hind-limb paralysis and death in weanling mice. This vector has allowed assessment of the effects of BCL-2 and BAX on both mortality and paralysis in these hosts. Similar to newborn hosts, weanling mice infected with dsNSV encoding BCL-2 or BAX survived better than animals infected with control viruses. This finding indicates that BCL-2 and BAX both protect neurons that mediate host survival. Neither cellular factor, however, could suppress the development of hind-limb paralysis or prevent the degeneration of motor neurons in the lumbar spinal cord. Infection of BAX knockout mice with dsNSV demonstrated that endogenous BAX also enhances the survival of animals but has no effect on paralysis. These findings for the spinal cord are consistent with earlier data showing that dying lumbar motor neurons do not exhibit an apoptotic morphology. Thus, divergent cell death pathways are activated in different target populations of neurons during neurovirulent SV infection of weanling mice.
The encephalitic alphaviruses are useful models for understanding virus-neuron interactions. A neurovirulent strain of Sindbis virus (NSV) causes fatal paralysis in mice by infecting motor neurons and inducing apoptosis of these nonrenewable cells. Antibodies to the surface glycoproteins suppress virus replication, but other recovery-promoting components of the immune response have not been recognized. We assessed the effect on the outcome of NSV-induced encephalomyelitis of immunization of mice with nonstructural proteins (nsPs) by using recombinant vaccinia viruses. Mice immunized with vaccinia virus expressing nsPs and challenged with NSV initially developed paralysis similar to unimmunized mice but then recovered neurologic function. Mice preimmunized with vaccinia virus expressing structural proteins were completely protected from paralysis. Mice immunized with vaccinia virus alone showed paralysis with little evidence of recovery. Vaccinia virus expressing only nsP2 was as effective as vaccinia virus expressing all the nsPs. Protection provided by immunity to nsPs was not associated with a reduction in virus replication or with improved antibody responses to structural proteins. Protection could not be passively transferred with nsP immune serum. The depletion of T cells at the time of NSV infection decreased protection. The data show that antiviral immune responses can improve the ability of neurons to survive infection and to recover function without altering virus replication.
Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) concentrations are frequently elevated in central nervous system (CNS) viral infections, but the pathophysiologic significance of such elevations is not known. To examine the role of IL-1β in CNS viral pathogenesis, we compared the natural histories of IL-1β-deficient and wild-type 129 SV(ev) mice infected with a neurovirulent viral strain, neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV). We found that the incidence of severe paralysis and death was markedly decreased in NSV-infected IL-1β−/− mice compared to NSV-infected wild-type mice (4 versus 88%, P < 0.001). Despite this marked difference in clinical outcome, no differences in numbers of apoptotic cells or presence of histopathologic lesions in the brains of moribund wild-type mice and those of clinically healthy IL-1β−/− mice could be detected. These results suggest that IL-1β deficiency is protective against fatal Sindbis virus infection by a mechanism that does not involve resistance to CNS virus-induced apoptosis or histopathology.
Little is known about the role of CD8+ T cells infiltrating the neural parenchyma during encephalitis induced by neurovirulent Sindbis virus (NSV). NSV preferentially infects neurons in the mouse brain and spinal cord; however, it is generally accepted that neurons can express few if any major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. We evaluated the possible roles and interactions of CD8+ T cells during NSV encephalitis and demonstrated that MHC class I antigen (H2K/D) was expressed on endothelial cells, inflammatory cells, and ependymal cells after intracerebral inoculation of NSV. No immunoreactivity was observed in neurons. On the other hand, in situ hybridization with probes for MHC class I heavy chain, β2 microglobulin, and TAP1 and TAP2 mRNAs revealed increased expression in a majority of neurons, as well as in inflammatory cells, endothelial cells, and ependymal cells in the central nervous system of infected mice. NSV-infected neurons may fail to express MHC class I molecules due to a posttranscriptional block or may express only nonclassical MHC class I genes. To better understand the role CD8+ T cells play during fatal encephalitis induced by NSV, mice lacking functional CD8+ T cells were studied. The presence or absence of CD8 did not alter outcome, but absence of β2 microglobulin improved survival. Interestingly, the intracellular levels of viral RNA decreased more rapidly in immunocompetent mice than in mice without functional CD8+ T cells. These observations suggest that CD8+ T cells may act indirectly, possibly via cytokines, to contribute to the clearance of viral RNA in neurons.
Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) infection of mice causes hindlimb paralysis and 100% mortality in the C57BL/6 mouse strain, while adults of the BALB/cBy mouse strain are resistant to fatal encephalomyelitis. Levels of viral RNA are higher in the brains of infected C57BL/6 mice than in BALB/cBy mice (D. C. Thach et al., J. Virol. 74:6156–6161, 2000). These phenotypic differences between the two strains allowed us to map genetic loci involved in mouse susceptibility to NSV and to find relationships between mortality, paralysis, and viral RNA levels. Analysis of percent mortality in H2-congenic and F1 mice suggested that the H2 locus, sex linkage, and imprinting were not involved in determining susceptibility and that resistance was partially dominant over susceptibility. Segregation analysis using CXB recombinant inbred (RI) mice indicated that the percent mortality was multigenic. Interval mapping detected a suggestive quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 2 near marker D2Mit447. Analysis of paralysis in the RI mice detected the same suggestive QTL. Viral RNA level in F1 mice was intermediate. Interval mapping using viral RNA levels in RI mice detected a significant QTL near marker D2Mit447 that explained 69% of the genetic variance. This QTL was confirmed in F2 mice and was designated as Nsv1. Viral RNA level, percent paralyzed, and percent mortality were linearly correlated (r = 0.8 to 0.9). These results indicate that mortality, paralysis, and viral RNA levels are related complex traits and that Nsv1 controls early viral load and determines the likelihood of paralysis and death.
Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), given intranasally, caused fatal encephalitis in 100% of adult C57BL/6 mice and 0% of BALB/cBy mice. Most C57BL/6 mice developed severe kyphoscoliosis followed by hind-limb paralysis, while BALB/cBy mice did not. In situ hybridization for detecting NSV RNA and immunohistochemistry for detecting NSV antigen indicated that virus delivered by this route infected neurons of the olfactory region and spread caudally without infection of ependymal cells. Virus antigen was more abundant and infectious virus increased more rapidly and reached higher levels in C57BL/6 mice than in BALB/cBy mice. Surprisingly, infectious virus was cleared faster in C57BL/6 mice, and this was associated with more rapid production of neutralizing antibody. However, viral RNA was cleared more slowly in C57BL/6 mice. In both mouse strains, more infectious virus was present in the lumbar spinal cord than in the cervical spinal cord. These data suggest that genetic susceptibility to fatal NSV encephalomyelitis is determined at least in part by the efficiency of viral replication and spread in the central nervous system. The differences identified in this study provide possible phenotypes for mapping genetic loci involved in susceptibility.
Dysregulation of glutamate handling ensuing downregulation of expression and activity levels of the astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is implicated in excitotoxic degeneration of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We previously reported that EAAT2 (a.k.a. GLT-1) is cleaved by caspase-3 at its cytosolic carboxy-terminus domain. This cleavage results in impaired glutamate transport activity and generates a proteolytic fragment (CTE) that we found to be post-translationally conjugated by SUMO1. We show here that this sumoylated CTE fragment accumulates in the nucleus of spinal cord astrocytes of the SOD1-G93A mouse model of ALS at symptomatic stages of disease. Astrocytic expression of CTE, artificially tagged with SUMO1 (CTE-SUMO1) to mimic the native sumoylated fragment, recapitulates the nuclear accumulation pattern of the endogenous EAAT2-derived proteolytic fragment. Moreover, in a co-culture binary system, expression of CTE-SUMO1 in spinal cord astrocytes initiates extrinsic toxicity by inducing caspase-3 activation in motor neuron-derived NSC-34 cells or axonal growth impairment in primary motor neurons. Interestingly, prolonged nuclear accumulation of CTE-SUMO1 is intrinsically toxic to spinal cord astrocytes, although this gliotoxic effect of CTE-SUMO1 occurs later than the indirect, non-cell autonomous toxic effect on motor neurons. As more evidence on the implication of SUMO substrates in neurodegenerative diseases emerges, our observations strongly suggest that the nuclear accumulation in spinal cord astrocytes of a sumoylated proteolytic fragment of the astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2 could participate to the pathogenesis of ALS and suggest a novel, unconventional role for EAAT2 in motor neuron degeneration.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; post-translational modification; SUMO; excitotoxicity
Cellular abnormalities in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not limited to motor neurons. Astrocyte dysfunction occurs in human ALS and SOD1G93A animal models. Therefore, the value of focal enrichment of normal astrocytes was investigated using transplantation of lineage-restricted astrocyte precursors, Glial-Restricted Precursors (GRPs). GRPs were transplanted around cervical spinal cord respiratory motor neuron pools, the principal cells responsible for death in this neurodegenerative disease. GRPs survived in diseased tissue, differentiated efficiently into astrocytes, and reduced microgliosis in SOD1G93A rat cervical spinal cord. GRPs extended survival and disease duration, attenuated motor neuron loss, and slowed declines in fore-limb motor and respiratory physiological function. Neuroprotection was mediated in part by the primary astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1. These findings demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of transplantation-based astrocyte replacement, and show that targeted multi-segmental cell delivery to cervical spinal cord is a promising therapeutic strategy for slowing focal motor neuron loss associated with ALS.
stem cell; grafting; transplantation; motor neuron; neurodegeneration; replacement; neuroprotection; non-cell autonomous; astroglia; astrocyte; neural precursor cell; progenitor; lineage-restricted precursor; glial precursor; ALS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; SOD1
Microglia express multiple TLRs (Toll-like receptors) and provide important host defence against viruses that invade the CNS (central nervous system). Although prior studies show these cells become activated during experimental alphavirus encephalitis in mice to generate cytokines and chemokines that influence virus replication, tissue inflammation and neuronal survival, the specific PRRs (pattern recognition receptors) and signalling intermediates controlling microglial activation in this setting remain unknown. To investigate these questions directly in vivo, mice ablated of specific TLR signalling molecules were challenged with NSV (neuroadapted Sindbis virus) and CNS viral titres, inflammatory responses and clinical outcomes followed over time. To approach this problem specifically in microglia, the effects of NSV on primary cells derived from the brains of wild-type and mutant animals were characterized in vitro. From the standpoint of the virus, microglial activation required viral uncoating and an intact viral genome; inactivated virus particles did not elicit measurable microglial responses. At the level of the target cell, NSV triggered multiple PRRs in microglia to produce a broad range of inflammatory mediators via non-overlapping signalling pathways. In vivo, disease survival was surprisingly independent of TLR-driven responses, but still required production of type-I IFN (interferon) to control CNS virus replication. Interestingly, the ER (endoplasmic reticulum) protein UNC93b1 facilitated host survival independent of its known effects on endosomal TLR signalling. Taken together, these data show that alphaviruses activate microglia via multiple PRRs, highlighting the complexity of the signalling networks by which CNS host responses are elicited by these infections.
encephalitis; microglia; Sindbis virus; Toll-like receptors; type-I interferon; UNC93b1; Baf A1, bafilomycin A1; CCL, CC motif ligand; CNS, central nervous system; CXCL13, C-X-C motif ligand 13; EAE, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; FBS, fetal bovine serum; HBSS, Hanks balanced salt solution; HSE, herpes simplex encephalitis; IFN, interferon; IL, interleukin; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MDA5, melanoma-differentiation-associated gene 5; MyD88, myeloid differentiation response gene 88; NSV, neuroadapted Sindbis virus; ODN, oligodeoxynucleotide; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cell; pfu, plaque-forming units; poly(I:C), polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid; PRR, pattern recognition receptor; qPCR, quantitative PCR; RLR, retinoic acid-inducible gene I-like receptor; RRMS, relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis; SV, Sindbis virus; TLR, Toll-like receptor; TNF, tumour necrosis factor
Transfer of anti-Sindbis virus serum, obtained from peripherally inoculated donors, protected mice from an otherwise fatal intracerebral infection with neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV). F(ab)'2 preparations of serum were not protective, indicating that the Fc piece of immunoglobulin G was important. Complement-depleted animals were protected with anti-NSV serum, ruling out as essential the complement-fixing function of the Fc piece. The presence of protective antibody correlated with the ability of serum to inhibit T-cell cytotoxicity. However, experiments using athymic nude mice showed that T cells played no role in killing the mice since the 50% lethal dose was the same as that in normal BALB/c mice, and that T cells were not required for protection since athymic nude mice were protected with antibody alone. Cyclophosphamide treatment of NSV-infected mice ablated the protective capacity of anti-NSV serum. Therefore, a non-T cell, cyclophosphamide-sensitive cell was required for antibody-mediated protection.
Sindbis virus (SV) is an alphavirus that causes encephalitis in mice and can lead to the apoptotic death of infected cells. To determine the step in virus replication during which apoptosis is triggered, we used UV-inactivated SV, chemicals that block virus fusion or protein synthesis, and cells that do and do not express heparan sulfate, the initial binding molecule for SV infection of many cells. In initial experiments, UV-inactivated neuroadapted SV (NSV) induced apoptosis in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells lacking heparan sulfate in the presence of cycloheximide. When fusion of prebound UV-inactivated NSV was rapidly induced at the plasma membrane by exposure to acidic pH, apoptosis was induced in CHO cells with or without heparan sulfate in the presence or absence of cycloheximide in a virus dose-dependent manner. In N18 neuroblastoma cells, the relative virulence of the virus strain was an important determinant of apoptosis induced by UV-inactivated SV. Treatment of N18 cells with monensin to prevent endosomal acidification an hour before, but not 2 h after, exposure to live NSV blocked the induction of cell death, as did treatment with NH4Cl or bafilomycin A1. These studies indicate that SV can induce apoptosis at the time of fusion with the cell membrane and that virus replication is not required.
We examined a variety of strains of Sindbis virus for the genetic changes responsible for differences in neurovirulence in mice. SV1A (a low passage of the AR339 strain of Sindbis virus), a neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), and two laboratory strains of Sindbis virus (HRSP and Toto1101) were examined. NSV causes severe encephalomyelitis with hind-limb paralysis and high mortality after intracerebral inoculation in weanling mice. In contrast, SV1A causes only mild, nonfatal disease in weanling mice; however, in suckling mice, SV1A causes a fatal encephalomyelitis after either intracerebral or subcutaneous inoculation. The two laboratory strains used have a greatly reduced neurovirulence for suckling mice and are avirulent for weanling mice. The nucleotide sequences and encoded amino acid sequences of the structural glycoproteins of these four strains were compared. Hybrid genomes were constructed by replacing restriction fragments in a full-length cDNA clone of Sindbis virus, from which infectious RNA can be transcribed in vitro, with fragments from cDNA clones of the various strains. These recombinant viruses allowed us to test the importance of each amino acid difference between the various strains for neurovirulence in weanling and suckling mice. Glycoproteins E2 and E1 were of paramount importance for neurovirulence in adult mice. Recombinant viruses containing the nonstructural protein region and the capsid protein region from an avirulent strain and the E1 and E2 glycoprotein regions from NSV were virulent, although they were less virulent than NSV. Furthermore, changes in either E2 (His-55 in NSV to Gln in SV1A) or E1 (Ala-72 in NSV to Val in SV1A and Asp-313 in NSV to Gly in SV1A) reduced virulence. For virulence in suckling mice, we found that a number of changes in E2 and E1 can lead to decreased virulence and that in fact, a gradient of virulence exists.
Wild-type Sindbis virus strain AR339 (SV) and a neurovirulent mutant (NSV), derived by neonatal and weanling mouse brain passage, both cause acute fatal encephalitis in neonatal mice, but NSV alone kills adult mice. NSV cannot be distinguished from SV by immune sera or simple biochemical tests. To localize the molecular changes associated with neuroadaptation, we used a new array of 30 anti-SV monoclonal antibodies to probe for differences between SV and NSV in four tests: immunoprecipitation, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay binding, neutralization, and hemagglutination inhibition. Seventeen monoclonal antibodies detected differences. Both E1 and E2 glycoprotein gene products were altered during neuroadaptation, but the preponderance of changes was clustered on E2. The capsid protein C was not measurably altered. Mapping of both viruses with these monoclonal antibodies showed that during neuroadaptation SV topography substantially shifted, masking and unmasking biologically important neutralization and hemagglutination inhibition sites. These conformational rearrangements, predominantly on E2, coincided with the acquisition of increased neurovirulence and new lethality for adult mice.
Glutamate neurotransmission is highly regulated, largely by glutamate transporters. In the spinal cord, the glutamate transporter GLT-1 is primarily responsible for glutamate clearance. Downregulation of GLT-1 can occur in activated astrocytes, and is associated with increased extracellular glutamate and neuroexcitation. Among other conditions, astrocyte activation occurs following repeated opioids and in models of chronic pain. If GLT-1 downregulation occurs in these states, GLT-1 could be a pharmacological target for improving opioid efficacy and controlling chronic pain. The present studies explored whether daily intrathecal treatment of rats with ceftriaxone, a β-lactam antibiotic that upregulates GLT-1 expression, could prevent development of hyperalgesia and allodynia following repeated morphine, reverse pain arising from central or peripheral neuropathy, and reduce glial activation in these models. Ceftriaxone pre-treatment attenuated the development of hyperalgesia and allodynia in response to repeated morphine, and prevented associated astrocyte activation. In a model of multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; EAE), ceftriaxone reversed tactile allodynia and halted the progression of motor weakness and paralysis. Similarly, ceftriaxone reversed tactile allodynia induced by chronic constriction nerve injury (CCI). EAE and CCI each significantly reduced the expression of membrane-bound, dimerized GLT-1 protein in lumbar spinal cord, an effect normalized by ceftriaxone. Lastly, ceftriaxone normalized CCI- and EAE-induced astrocyte activation in lumbar spinal cord. Together, these data indicate that increasing spinal GLT-1 expression attenuates opioid-induced paradoxical pain, alleviates neuropathic pain, and suppresses associated glial activation. GLT-1 therefore may be a therapeutic target that could improve available treatment options for patients with chronic pain.
opioid; spinal cord; multiple sclerosis; astrocyte; allodynia; hyperalgesia
The GLT-1 (EAAT2) subtype of glutamate transporter ensures crisp excitatory signaling and limits excitotoxicity in the CNS. Astrocytic expression of GLT-1 is regulated during development, by neuronal activity, and in neurodegenerative diseases. Although neurons activate astrocytic expression of GLT-1, the mechanisms involved have not been identified. In the present study, astrocytes from transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) containing a very large region of DNA surrounding the GLT-1 gene (BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice) were used to assess the role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in neuron-dependent activation of the GLT-1 promoter. We provide evidence that neurons activate NF-κB signaling in astrocytes. Transduction of astrocytes from the BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice with dominant-negative inhibitors of NF-κB signaling completely blocked neuron-dependent activation of a NF-κB reporter construct and attenuated induction of eGFP. Exogenous expression of p65 and/or p50 NF-κB subunits induced expression of eGFP or GLT-1 and increased GLT-1-mediated transport activity. Using wild type and mutant GLT-1 promoter reporter constructs, we found that NF-κB sites at −583 or −251 relative to the transcription start site eliminated neuron-dependent reporter activation. Electrophoretic mobility shift and supershift assays reveal that p65 and p50 interact with these same sites ex vivo. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) showed that p65 and p50 interact with these sites in adult cortex, but not in kidney (a tissue that expresses no detectable GLT-1). Together, these studies strongly suggest that NF-κB contributes to neuron-dependent regulation of astrocytic GLT-1 transcription.
glutamate transport; NF-κB; astrocytes; p65; p50; EAAT2; GLT-1; IκBα
Sindbis virus (SV) is an alphavirus that causes acute encephalomyelitis in mice. The outcome is determined by the strain of virus and by the age and genetic background of the host. The mortality rates after infection with NSV, a neurovirulent strain of SV, were as follows v: 81% (17 of 21) in BALB/cJ mice; 20% (4 of 20) in BALB/cByJ mice (P < 0.001); 100% in A/J, C57BL/6J, SJL, and DBA mice; and 79% (11 of 14) in immunodeficient scid/CB17 mice. Treatment with Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a nitric oxide synthetase (NOS) inhibitor, increased mortality to 100% (P < 0.05) in NSV-infected BALB/cJ mice, to 95% (P < 0.001) in BALB/cByJ mice, and to 100% in scid/CB17 mice. BALB/cJ and BALB/cByJ mice had similar levels of inducible NOS mRNA in their brains, which were not affected by L-NAME or NSV infection. Brain NOS activity was similar in BALB/cJ and BALB/cByJ mice before and after infection and was markedly inhibited by L-NAME. NSV replication in the brains of BALB/cJ mice, BALB/cByJ mice, and mice treated with L-NAME was similar. Treatment of N18 neuroblastoma cells with NO donors S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine or sodium nitroprusside in vitro before infection increased cell viability at 42 to 48 h compared with untreated NSV-infected N18 cells with little effect on virus replication. These data suggest that NO protects mice from fatal encephalitis by a mechanism that does not directly involve the immune response or inhibition of virus growth but rather may enhance survival of the infected neuron until the immune response can control virus replication.
The glial glutamate transporter GLT-1 is abundantly expressed in astrocytes and is crucial for glutamate removal from the synaptic cleft. Decreases in glutamate uptake activity and expression of spinal glutamate transporters are reported in animal models of pathological pain. However, the lack of available specific inhibitors and/or activators for GLT-1 makes it difficult to determine the roles of spinal GLT-1 in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. In this study, we examined the effect of gene transfer of GLT-1 into the spinal cord with recombinant adenoviruses on the inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rats.
Intraspinal infusion of adenoviral vectors expressing the GLT-1 gene increased GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord 2–21 days after the infusion. Transgene expression was primarily localized to astrocytes. The spinal GLT-1 gene transfer had no effect on acute mechanical and thermal nociceptive responses in naive rats, whereas it significantly reduced the inflammatory mechanical hyperalgesia induced by hindlimb intraplantar injection of carrageenan/kaolin. Spinal GLT-1 gene transfer 7 days before partial sciatic nerve ligation recovered the extent of the spinal GLT-1 expression in the membrane fraction that was decreased following the nerve ligation, and prevented the induction of tactile allodynia. However, the partial sciatic nerve ligation-induced allodynia was not reversed when the adenoviruses were infused 7 or 14 days after the nerve ligation.
These results suggest that overexpression of GLT-1 on astrocytes in the spinal cord by recombinant adenoviruses attenuates the induction, but not maintenance, of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, probably by preventing the induction of central sensitization, without affecting acute pain sensation. Upregulation or functional enhancement of spinal GLT-1 could be a novel strategy for the prevention of pathological pain.
Astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2/GLT1 prevents glutamate-induced excitotoxicity in the central nervous system. Expression of EAAT2/GLT1 is dynamically regulated by neurons. The pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves astroglial dysfunction, including dramatic loss of EAAT2/GLT1. DNA methylation of gene promoters represents one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms in regulating gene expression. The involvement of DNA methylation in the regulation of astroglial EAAT2/GLT1 expression in different conditions, especially in ALS has not been explored. In this study, we established a procedure to selectively isolate a pure astrocyte population in vitro and in vivo from BAC GLT1 eGFP mice using an eGFP-based fluorescence-activated cell sorting approach. Astrocytes isolated from this procedure are GFAP+ and GLT1+ and respond to neuronal stimulation, enabling direct methylation analysis of GLT1 promoter in these astrocytes. To investigate the role of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological EAAT2/GLT1 expression, methylation status of the EAAT2/GLT1 promoter was analyzed in astrocytes from in vitro and in vivo paradigms or postmortem ALS motor cortex by bisulfite sequencing method. DNA demethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter was highly correlated to increased GLT1 mRNA levels in astrocytes in response to neuronal stimulation; however, low level of methylation was found on CpG sites of EAAT2 promoter from postmortem motor cortex of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. In summary, hypermethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter is involved in repression of GLT1 promoter activation, but this regulation does not play a role in astroglial dysfunction of EAAT2 expression in patients with ALS.
epigenetic; astrocyte; GLT1
Dysregulation of the astroglial glutamate transporters GLAST and GLT-1 has been implicated in several neurodegenerative disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) where a loss of GLT-1 protein expression and activity is reported. Furthermore, the two principal C-terminal splice variants of GLT-1 (namely GLT-1a and GLT-1b) show altered expression ratio in animal models of this disease. Considering the putative link between inflammation and excitotoxicity, we have here characterized the influence of TNF-α on glutamate transporters in cerebral cortical astrocyte cultures from wild-type rats and from a rat model of ALS (hSOD1G93A). Contrasting with the down-regulation of GLAST, a 72 h treatment with TNF-α substantially increased the expression of GLT-1a and GLT-1b in both astrocyte cultures. However, as the basal level of GLT-1a appeared considerably lower in hSOD1G93A astrocytes, its up-regulation by TNF-α was insufficient to recapitulate the expression observed in wild-type astrocytes. Also the glutamate uptake activity after TNF-α treatment was lower for hSOD1G93A astrocytes as compared to wild-type astrocytes. In the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, TNF-α did not influence GLT-1 isoform expression, suggesting an active role of dynamically regulated protein partners in the adaptation of astrocytes to the inflammatory environment. Confirming the influence of inflammation on the control of glutamate transmission by astrocytes, these results shed light on the regulation of glutamate transporter isoforms in neurodegenerative disorders.
Elevated extracellular glutamate, resulting from a loss of astrocytic glutamate transport capacity, may contribute to excitotoxic motor neuron (MN) damage in ALS. Accounting for their high excitotoxic vulnerability, MNs possess large numbers of unusual Ca2+ permeable AMPA channels (Ca-AMPA channels), the activation of which triggers mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and strong reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. However, the causes of the astrocytic glutamate transport loss remain unexplained. To assess the role of Ca-AMPA channels on the evolution of pathology in vivo, we have examined effects of prolonged intrathecal infusion of the Ca-AMPA channel blocker, 1-naphthyl acetylspermine (NAS), in G93A transgenic rat models of ALS. In wild type animals, immunoreactivity for the astrocytic glutamate transporter, GLT-1, was particularly strong around ventral horn MNs. However, a marked loss of ventral horn GLT-1 was observed, along with substantial MN damage, prior to onset of symptoms (90-100 d) in the G93A rats. Conversely, labeling with the oxidative marker, nitrotyrosine, was increased in the neuropil surrounding MNs in the transgenic animals. Compared to sham treated G93A animals, 30 day NAS infusions (starting at 67±2 days of age) markedly diminished the loss of both MNs and of astrocytic GLT-1 labeling. These observations are compatible with the hypothesis that activation of Ca-AMPA channels on MNs contributes, likely in part through oxidative mechanisms, to loss of glutamate transporter in surrounding astrocytes.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; G93A; excitotoxicity; EAAT2; motor neuron; 3-nitrotyrosine; 1-naphthyl acetylspermine