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1.  The A3 Adenosine Receptor Mediates Cell Spreading, Reorganization of Actin Cytoskeleton, and Distribution of Bcl-xL: Studies in Human Astroglioma Cells 
The pathophysiological role of the adenosine A3 receptor in the central nervous system is largely unknown. We have investigated the effects of the selective A3 receptor agonist 2-chloro-N6-(3-iodobenzyl)-adenosine, Cl-IB-MECA, in cells of the astroglial lineage (human astrocytoma ADF cells). A marked reorganization of the cytoskeleton, with appearance of stress fibers and numerous cell protrusions, was found following exposure of cells to low (nM) concentrations of Cl-IB-MECA. These “trophic” effects were accompanied by induction of the expression of Rho, a small GTP-binding protein, which was virtually absent in control cells, and by changes of the intracellular distribution of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL, that, in agonist-exposed cells, became specifically associated to cell protrusions. This is the first demonstration that the intracellular organization of Bcl-xL can be modulated by the activation of a G-protein-coupled membrane receptor, such as the A3 adenosine receptor. Moreover, modulation of the astrocytic cytoskeleton by adenosine may have intriguing implications in both nervous system development and in the response of the brain to trauma and ischemia.
PMCID: PMC4248308  PMID: 9425266
2.  IL7Rα contributes to EAE through altered T cell responses and non-hematopoietic cell lineages 
A mutation in the IL7Rα locus has been identified as a risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation, demyelination, and axonal damage. IL7Rα has well documented roles in lymphocyte development and homeostasis, but its involvement in disease is largely understudied. Here we use the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of MS to show that a less severe form of the disease results when IL7Rα expression is largely restricted to thymic tissue in IL7RTgIL7R−/− mice. Compared to wild type (WT) mice, IL7RTgIL7R−/− mice exhibited reduced paralysis and myelin damage that correlated with dampened effector responses, namely decreased TNF production. Furthermore, treatment of diseased WT mice with neutralizing anti-IL7Rα antibody also resulted in significant improvement of EAE. Additionally, chimeric mice were generated by bone marrow transplant to limit expression of IL7Rα to cells of either hematopoietic or non-hematopoietic origin. Mice lacking IL7Rα only on hematopoietic cells develop severe EAE, suggesting that IL7Rα expression in the non-hematopoietic compartment contributes to disease. Moreover, novel IL7Rα expression was identified on astrocytes and oligodendrocytes endogenous to the central nervous system. Chimeric mice that lack IL7Rα only on non-hematopoietic cells also develop severe EAE, which further supports the role of IL7Rα in T cell effector function. Conversely, mice that lack IL7Rα throughout both compartments are dramatically protected from disease. Taken together, these data indicate that multiple cell types utilize IL7Rα signaling in the development of EAE, and inhibition of this pathway should be considered as a new therapeutic avenue for MS.
PMCID: PMC4120889  PMID: 23530149
3.  Murine Neonates Infected with Yersinia enterocolitica Develop Rapid and Robust Proinflammatory Responses in Intestinal Lymphoid Tissues 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(2):762-772.
Neonatal animals are generally very susceptible to infection with bacterial pathogens. However, we recently reported that neonatal mice are highly resistant to orogastric infection with Yersinia enterocolitica. Here, we show that proinflammatory responses greatly exceeding those in adults arise very rapidly in the mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) of neonates. High-level induction of proinflammatory gene expression occurred in the neonatal MLN as early as 18 h postinfection. Marked innate phagocyte recruitment was subsequently detected at 24 h postinfection. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay (ELISPOT) analyses indicated that enhanced inflammation in neonatal MLN is contributed to, in part, by an increased frequency of proinflammatory cytokine-secreting cells. Moreover, both CD11b+ and CD11b− cell populations appeared to play a role in proinflammatory gene expression. The level of inflammation in neonatal MLN was also dependent on key bacterial components. Y. enterocolitica lacking the virulence plasmid failed to induce innate phagocyte recruitment. In contrast, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) protein expression and neutrophil recruitment were strikingly higher in neonatal MLN after infection with a yopP-deficient strain than with wild-type Y. enterocolitica, whereas only modest increases occurred in adults. This hyperinflammatory response was associated with greater colonization of the spleen and higher mortality in neonates, while there was no difference in mortality among adults. This model highlights the dynamic levels of inflammation in the intestinal lymphoid tissues and reveals the protective (wild-type strain) versus harmful (yopP-deficient strain) consequences of inflammation in neonates. Moreover, these results reveal that the neonatal intestinal lymphoid tissues have great potential to rapidly mobilize innate components in response to infection with bacterial enteropathogens.
PMCID: PMC3911368  PMID: 24478090
4.  Transgenic inhibition of astroglial NF-κB leads to increased axonal sparing and sprouting following spinal cord injury 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;110(2):765-778.
We previously showed that NF-κB inactivation in astrocytes leads to improved functional recovery following spinal cord injury (SCI). This correlated with reduced expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans, and increased white matter preservation. Hence we hypothesized that inactivation of astrocytic NF-κB would create a more permissive environment for axonal sprouting and regeneration. We induced both contusive and complete transection SCI in GFAP-IκBα-dn and WT mice and performed retrograde (fluorogold) and anterograde (biotinylated dextran amine) tracing eight weeks after injury. Following contusive SCI, more fluorogold-labeled cells were found in motor cortex, reticular formation, and raphe nuclei of transgenic mice. Spared and sprouting biotinylated dextran amine-positive corticospinal axons were found caudal to the lesion in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice. Higher numbers of fluorogold-labeled neurons were detected immediately rostral to the lesion in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice, accompanied by increased expression of synaptic and axonal growth-associated molecules. After transection, however, no fluorogold-labeled neurons or biotinylated dextran amine-filled axons were found rostral and caudal to the lesion, respectively, in either genotype. These data demonstrated that inhibiting astroglial NF-κB resulted in a growth-supporting terrain promoting sparing and sprouting, rather than regeneration, of supraspinal and propriospinal circuitries essential for locomotion, hence contributing to the improved functional recovery observed after SCI in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice.
PMCID: PMC4090052  PMID: 19522780
transgenic mice; astrocytes; retrograde tracing; anterograde tracing; GAP-43; neuroprotection
5.  NIBP, a Novel NIK and IKKβ-binding Protein That Enhances NF-κB Activation* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;280(32):29233-29241.
The transcription factor NF-κB plays an important role in both physiological and pathological events in the central nervous system. Nevertheless, the mechanisms of NF-κB-mediated regulation of gene expression, and the signaling molecules participating in the NF-κB pathway in the central nervous system are, to date, poorly understood. To identify such molecules, we conducted a yeast two-hybrid screen of a human brain cDNA library using NIK as bait. As a result, we identified a novel NIK and IKKβ binding protein designated NIBP that is mainly expressed in brain, muscle, heart, and kidney. Interestingly, low levels of expression were detected in immune tissues such as spleen, thymus, and peripheral blood leukocytes, where NF-κB is known to modulate immune function. We demonstrated by immunohistochemistry that NIBP expression in the brain is localized to neurons. NIBP physically interacts with NIK IKKβ, but not IKKα or IKKγ. NIBP overexpression potentiates tumor necrosis factor-α-induced NF-κB activation through increased phosphorylation of the IKK complex and its downstream IκBα and p65 substrates. Finally, knockdown of NIBP expression by small interfering RNA reduces tumor necrosis factor-α-induced NF-κB activation, prevents nerve growth factor-induced neuronal differentiation, and decreases Bcl-xL gene expression in PC12 cells. Our data demonstrate that NIBP, by interacting with NIK and IKKβ, is a new enhancer of the cytokine-induced NF-κB signaling pathway. Because of its neuronal expression, we propose that NIBP may be a potential target for modulating the NF-κB signaling cascade in neuronal pathologies dependent upon abnormal activation of this pathway.
PMCID: PMC3707486  PMID: 15951441
6.  Activation and Desensitization of Rat A3-Adenosine Receptors by Selective Adenosine Derivatives and Xanthine-7-Ribosides 
Drug development research  1998;44(2-3):97-105.
Strategy, Management and Health PolicyVenture Capital Enabling TechnologyPreclinical ResearchPreclinical Development Toxicology, Formulation Drug Delivery, PharmacokineticsClinical Development Phases I-III Regulatory, Quality, ManufacturingPostmarketing Phase IV
Xanthine and adenosine derivatives, known to bind to recombinant rat A3 adenosine receptors stably expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, were characterized in a functional assay consisting of activation of A3 receptor-stimulated binding of [35S]GTPγS in rat RBL-2H3 cell membranes. 1,3-Dibutylxanthine-7-riboside-5′-N-methylcarboxamide (DBXRM, 7b), previously shown to inhibit adenylyl cyclase via rat A3 receptors with full efficacy, appeared to be a partial agonist at the rat A3 receptor of RBL-2H3 cells. Full agonists, such as Cl-IB-MECA or I-AB-MECA, were more potent and effective than the partial agonist DBXRM in causing desensitization of rat A3 receptors, as indicated by loss of [35S]GTPγS binding. At A1 receptors, antagonism of agonist-elicited inhibition of rat adipocyte adenylyl cyclase was observed for several xanthine-7-riboside derivatives that had been shown to be full agonists at rat A3 receptors. A new xanthine riboside (3′-deoxyDBXRM, 7c) was synthesized and found to be a partial agonist at rat A3 receptors and an antagonist at rat A1 receptors. Thus, it is possible for the same compound to stimulate one adenosine receptor subtype (A3) and block another subtype (A1) within the same species.
PMCID: PMC3589805  PMID: 23487508
xanthines; adenosine derivatives; nucleosides; adenylyl cyclase; guanine nucleotides
8.  Transgenic inhibition of astroglial NF-κB protects from optic nerve damage and retinal ganglion cell loss in experimental optic neuritis 
Optic neuritis is an acute, demyelinating neuropathy of the optic nerve often representing the first appreciable symptom of multiple sclerosis. Wallerian degeneration of irreversibly damaged optic nerve axons leads to death of retinal ganglion cells, which is the cause of permanent visual impairment. Although the specific mechanisms responsible for triggering these events are unknown, it has been suggested that a key pathological factor is the activation of immune-inflammatory processes secondary to leukocyte infiltration. However, to date, there is no conclusive evidence to support such a causal role for infiltrating peripheral immune cells in the etiopathology of optic neuritis.
To dissect the contribution of the peripheral immune-inflammatory response versus the CNS-specific inflammatory response in the development of optic neuritis, we analyzed optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells pathology in wild-type and GFAP-IκBα-dn transgenic mice, where NF-κB is selectively inactivated in astrocytes, following induction of EAE.
We found that, in wild-type mice, axonal demyelination in the optic nerve occurred as early as 8 days post induction of EAE, prior to the earliest signs of leukocyte infiltration (20 days post induction). On the contrary, GFAP-IκBα-dn mice were significantly protected and showed a nearly complete prevention of axonal demyelination, as well as a drastic attenuation in retinal ganglion cell death. This correlated with a decrease in the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, as well as a prevention of NAD(P)H oxidase subunit upregulation.
Our results provide evidence that astrocytes, not infiltrating immune cells, play a key role in the development of optic neuritis and that astrocyte-mediated neurotoxicity is dependent on activation of a transcriptional program regulated by NF-κB. Hence, interventions targeting the NF-κB transcription factor in astroglia may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of optic neuritis associated with multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3490907  PMID: 22963651
Optic neuritis; Astrogliosis; Retinal ganglion cell death; NF-κB pathway
9.  Inhibition of soluble tumour necrosis factor is therapeutic in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and promotes axon preservation and remyelination 
Brain  2011;134(9):2736-2754.
Tumour necrosis factor is linked to the pathophysiology of various neurodegenerative disorders including multiple sclerosis. Tumour necrosis factor exists in two biologically active forms, soluble and transmembrane. Here we show that selective inhibition of soluble tumour necrosis factor is therapeutic in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Treatment with XPro1595, a selective soluble tumour necrosis factor blocker, improves the clinical outcome, whereas non-selective inhibition of both forms of tumour necrosis factor with etanercept does not result in protection. The therapeutic effect of XPro1595 is associated with axon preservation and improved myelin compaction, paralleled by increased expression of axon-specific molecules (e.g. neurofilament-H) and reduced expression of non-phosphorylated neurofilament-H which is associated with axon damage. XPro1595-treated mice show significant remyelination accompanied by elevated expression of myelin-specific genes and increased numbers of oligodendrocyte precursors. Immunohistochemical characterization of tumour necrosis factor receptors in the spinal cord following experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis shows tumour necrosis factor receptor 1 expression in neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, while tumour necrosis factor receptor 2 is localized in oligodendrocytes, oligodendrocyte precursors, astrocytes and macrophages/microglia. Importantly, a similar pattern of expression is found in post-mortem spinal cord of patients affected by progressive multiple sclerosis, suggesting that pharmacological modulation of tumour necrosis factor receptor signalling may represent an important target in affecting not only the course of mouse experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis but human multiple sclerosis as well. Collectively, our data demonstrate that selective inhibition of soluble tumour necrosis factor improves recovery following experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, and that signalling mediated by transmembrane tumour necrosis factor is essential for axon and myelin preservation as well as remyelination, opening the possibility of a new avenue of treatment for multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3170538  PMID: 21908877
demyelination; multiple sclerosis; neurodegenerative disorders; neuroprotection; myelin repair
10.  Transgenic Inhibition of Glial NF-kappa B Reduces Pain Behavior and Inflammation after Peripheral Nerve Injury 
Pain  2010;148(3):509-518.
The transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) is a key regulator of inflammatory processes in reactive glial cells. We utilized a transgenic mouse model (GFAP-IκBα-dn) where the classical NF-κB pathway is inactivated by overexpression of a dominant negative (dn) form of the inhibitor of kappa B (IκBα) in glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expressing cells, which include astrocytes, Schwann cells, and satellite cells of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and sought to determine whether glial NF-κB inhibition leads to a reduction in pain behavior and inflammation following chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. As expected, following CCI nuclear translocation, and hence activation, of NF-κB was detected only in the in the sciatic nerve of wild type (WT) mice, and not in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice, while upregulation of GFAP was observed in the in sciatic nerve and DRGs of both WT and GFAP-IκBα-dn mice, indicative of glial activation. Following CCI, mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia were reduced in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice compared to WT, as well as gene and protein expression of CCL2, CCR2 and CXCL10 in the sciatic nerve. Additionally, gene expression of TNF, CCL2, and CCR2 was reduced in the DRGs of transgenic mice compared to WT after CCI. We can therefore conclude that transgenic inhibition of NF-κB in GFAP expressing glial cells attenuated pain and inflammation after peripheral nerve injury. These findings suggest that targeting the inflammatory response in Schwann cells and satellite cells may be important in treating neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC2853034  PMID: 20097004
Pain; NF-kappa B; Chronic Constriction Injury; Peripheral Glia
11.  Inactivation of astroglial NF-κB promotes survival of retinal neurons following ischemic injury 
Reactive astrocytes have been implicated in neuronal loss following ischemic stroke. However, the molecular mechanisms associated with this process are yet to be fully elucidated. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that astroglial NF-κB, a key regulator of inflammatory responses, is a contributor to neuronal death following ischemic injury. We compared neuronal survival in the ganglion cell layer after retinal ischemia-reperfusion in wild type and in GFAP-IκBα-dn transgenic mice, where the NF-κB classical pathway is suppressed specifically in astrocytes. The GFAP-IκBα-dn mice showed significantly increased survival of neurons in the ganglion cell layer following ischemic injury as compared to WT littermates. Neuroprotection was associated with significantly reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes, encoding Tnf-α, Ccl2 (Mcp1), Cxcl10 (IP10), Icam1, Vcam1, several subunits of NADPH oxidase and NO synthase in the retinas of GFAP-IκBα-dn mice. These data suggest that certain NF-κB-regulated pro-inflammatory and redox-active pathways are central to glial neurotoxicity induced by ischemic injury. The inhibition of these pathways in astrocytes may represent a feasible neuroprotective strategy for retinal ischemia and stroke.
PMCID: PMC2778328  PMID: 19614983
astrocytes; inflammation; ischemia; retinal pathology; transgenic mice
12.  Inhibition of astroglial nuclear factor κB reduces inflammation and improves functional recovery after spinal cord injury 
In the central nervous system (CNS), the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-κB is a key regulator of inflammation and secondary injury processes. After trauma or disease, the expression of NF-κB–dependent genes is highly activated, leading to both protective and detrimental effects on CNS recovery. We demonstrate that selective inactivation of astroglial NF-κB in transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative (dn) form of the inhibitor of κBα under the control of an astrocyte-specific promoter (glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP]–dn mice) leads to a dramatic improvement in functional recovery 8 wk after contusive spinal cord injury (SCI). Histologically, GFAP mice exhibit reduced lesion volume and substantially increased white matter preservation. In parallel, they show reduced expression of proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines, such as CXCL10, CCL2, and transforming growth factor–β2, and of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans participating in the formation of the glial scar. We conclude that selective inhibition of NF-κB signaling in astrocytes results in protective effects after SCI and propose the NF-κB pathway as a possible new target for the development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of SCI.
PMCID: PMC2212896  PMID: 15998793
13.  Cyclo-oxygenase-2 mediates P2Y receptor-induced reactive astrogliosis 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1999;126(3):563-567.
Excessive cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) induction may play a role in chronic neurological diseases characterized by inflammation and astrogliosis. We have previously identified an astroglial receptor for extracellular nucleotides, a P2Y receptor, whose stimulation leads to arachidonic acid (AA) release, followed, 3 days later, by morphological changes resembling reactive astrogliosis. Since COX-2 may be upregulated by AA metabolites, we assessed a possible role for COX-2 in P2Y receptor-mediated astrogliosis. A brief challenge of rat astrocytes with the ATP analogue α,β-methylene ATP (α,βmeATP) resulted, 24 h later, in significantly increased COX-2 expression. The selective COX-2 inhibitor NS-398 completely abolished α,βmeATP-induced astrocytic activation. Constitutive astroglial COX-1 or COX-2 did not play any role in purine-induced reactive astrogliosis. PGE2, a main metabolite of COX-2, also induced astrocytic activation. These data suggest that a P2Y receptor mediates reactive astrogliosis via induction of COX-2. Antagonists selective for this receptor may counteract excessive COX-2 activation in both acute and chronic neurological diseases.
PMCID: PMC1565841  PMID: 10188963
ATP; cyclo-oxygenase-2; inflammation; astrogliosis; P2Y receptors
14.  Characterization of the signalling pathways involved in ATP and basic fibroblast growth factor-induced astrogliosis 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1997;121(8):1692-1699.
A brief challenge of rat astrocytes with either α,β-methyleneATP (α,β-meATP) or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) resulted, three days later, in morphological differentiation of cells, as shown by marked elongation of astrocytic processes. The P2 receptor antagonist suramin prevented α,β-meATP- but not bFGF-induced astrocytic elongation. Similar effects on astrocytic elongation were also observed with ATP and other P2 receptor agonists (β,γmeATP, ADPβS, 2meSATP and, to a lesser extent, UTP).Pertussis toxin completely abolished α,β-meATP- but not bFGF-induced effects. No effects were exerted by α,β-meATP on cyclic AMP production; similarly, neomycin had no effects on elongation of processes induced by the purine analogue, suggesting that adenylyl cyclase and phospholipase C are probably not involved in α,β-meATP-induced effects (see also the accompanying paper by Centemeri et al., 1997). The tyrosine-kinase inhibitor genistein greatly reduced bFGF- but not α,β-meATP-induced astrocytic elongation.Challenge of cultures with α,β-meATP rapidly and concentration-dependently increased [3H]-arachidonic acid (AA) release from cells, suggesting that activation of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) may be involved in the long-term functional effects evoked by purine analogues. Consistently, exogenously added AA markedly elongated astrocytic processes. Moreover, various PLA2 inhibitors (e.g. mepacrine and dexamethasone) prevented both the early α,β-meATP-induced [3H]-AA release and/or the associated long-term morphological changes, without affecting the astrocytic elongation induced by bFGF. Finally, the protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor H7 fully abolished α,β-meATP- but not bFGF-induced effects.Both α,β-meATP and bFGF rapidly and transiently induced the nuclear accumulation of Fos and Jun. Both c-fos and c-jun induction by the purine analogue could be fully prevented by pretreatment with suramin. In contrast, the effects of bFGF were unaffected by this P2 receptor antagonist.It was concluded that α,β-meATP- and bFGF-morphological differentiation of astrocytes occurs via independent transductional pathways. For the purine analogue, signalling involves a Gi/Go protein-coupled P2Y-receptor which may be linked to activation of PLA2 (involvement of an arachidonate-sensitive PKC is speculated); for bFGF, a tyrosine kinase receptor is involved. Both pathways merge on some common intracellular target, as suggested by induction of primary response genes, which in turn may regulate late response genes mediating long-term phenotypic changes of astroglial cells.These findings implicate P2 receptors as novel targets for the pharmacological regulation of reactive astrogliosis, which has intriguing implications in nervous system diseases characterized by degenerative events.
PMCID: PMC1564854  PMID: 9283705
Rat brain astrocytes; glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP); P2 receptors; basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) receptors; primary response genes; astrocytic differentiation

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