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1.  Reduced Extracellular Zinc Levels Facilitate Glutamate-Mediated Oligodendrocyte Death after Trauma 
Journal of neuroscience research  2013;91(6):828-837.
Spinal cord injury results in irreversible paralysis, axonal injury, widespread oligodendrocyte death and white matter damage. While the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are poorly understood, previous studies from our laboratory indicate inhibiting activation of the nuclear factor - κB transcription factor in astrocytes reduces white matter damage and improves functional recovery following spinal cord injury. In the current study, we demonstrate that activation of the nuclear factor - κB transcription factor within astrocytes results in a significant increase in oligodendrocyte death following trauma by reducing extracellular zinc levels and inducing glutamate excitotoxicity. Using an ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonist (CNQX), we show astroglial nuclear factor-κB-mediated oligodendrocyte death is dependent upon glutamate signaling despite no change in extracellular glutamate concentrations. Further analysis demonstrated a reduction in levels of extracellular zinc in astrocyte cultures with functional nuclear factor-κB signaling following trauma. Co-treatment of oligodendrocytes with glutamate and zinc showed a significant increase in oligodendrocyte toxicity in low zinc conditions, suggesting the presence of zinc at specific concentrations can prevent glutamate excitotoxicity. These studies demonstrate a novel role for zinc in regulating oligodendrocyte excitotoxicity and identify new therapeutic targets to prevent oligodendrocyte cell death in central nervous system trauma and disease.
PMCID: PMC4120886  PMID: 23553703
astrocytes; zinc; oligodendrocytes; glutamate; excitotoxicity
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.  Nuclear Factor-κB Activation in Schwann Cells Regulates Regeneration and Re-myelination 
Glia  2012;60(4):639-650.
Schwann cells (SCs) are crucial for peripheral nerve development and regeneration; however, the intrinsic regulatory mechanisms governing post-injury responses are poorly understood. Activation and deacetylation of nuclear factor-κB (NF- κB) in SCs have been implicated as prerequisites for peripheral nerve myelination. Using GFAP-IκBα-dn mice in which NF- κB transcriptional activation is inhibited in SCs we found no discernable differences in the quantity or structure of myelinated axons in adult facial nerves. Following crush injury, axonal regeneration was impaired at 31 days and significantly enhanced at 65 days in transgenic animals. Compact re-myelination and Remak bundle organization were significantly compromised at 31 days and restored by 65 days post injury. Together, these data indicate that inhibition of NF- κB activation in SCs transiently delays axonal regeneration and compact re-myelination. Manipulating the temporal activation of nuclear factor-κB in Schwann cells may offer new therapeutic avenues for PNS and CNS regeneration.
PMCID: PMC4120893  PMID: 22275133
myelin; peripheral; nerve; injury
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.  Central but not systemic administration of XPro1595 is therapeutic following moderate spinal cord injury in mice 
Glial cell activation and overproduction of inflammatory mediators in the central nervous system (CNS) have been implicated in acute traumatic injuries to the CNS, including spinal cord injury (SCI). Elevated levels of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which exists in both a soluble (sol) and a transmembrane (tm) form, have been found in the lesioned cord early after injury. The contribution of solTNF versus tmTNF to the development of the lesion is, however, still unclear.
We tested the effect of systemically or centrally blocking solTNF alone, using XPro1595, versus using the drug etanercept to block both solTNF and tmTNF compared to a placebo vehicle following moderate SCI in mice. Functional outcomes were evaluated using the Basso Mouse Scale, rung walk test, and thermal hyperalgesia analysis. The inflammatory response in the lesioned cord was investigated using immunohistochemistry and western blotting analyses.
We found that peripheral administration of anti-TNF therapies had no discernable effect on locomotor performances after SCI. In contrast, central administration of XPro1595 resulted in improved locomotor function, decreased anxiety-related behavior, and reduced damage to the lesioned spinal cord, whereas central administration of etanercept had no therapeutic effects. Improvements in XPro1595-treated mice were accompanied by increases in Toll-like receptor 4 and TNF receptor 2 (TNFR2) protein levels and changes in Iba1 protein expression in microglia/macrophages 7 and 28 days after SCI.
These studies suggest that, by selectively blocking solTNF, XPro1595 is neuroprotective when applied directly to the lesioned cord. This protection may be mediated via alteration of the inflammatory environment without suppression of the neuroprotective effects of tmTNF signaling through TNFR2.
PMCID: PMC4176557  PMID: 25204558
Functional outcome; Spinal cord injury; TLR4; TNFR2; Tumor necrosis factor
6.  Activation of NF-κB in Schwann Cells Is Dispensable for Myelination In Vivo 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(24):9932-9936.
Peripheral myelination is a dynamic process orchestrated by axons and Schwann cells. Although the signaling mechanisms governing myelination are not fully understood, NF-κB activation in Schwann cells has been implicated as a key regulator in vitro. Using a mouse model, we show that nuclear factor κB activation in Schwann cells is not required for myelination in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3682379  PMID: 23761888
7.  Chronic thoracic spinal cord injury impairs CD8+ T-cell function by up-regulating programmed cell death-1 expression 
Chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) induces immune depression in patients, which contributes to their higher risk of developing infections. While defects in humoral immunity have been reported, complications in T-cell immunity during the chronic phase of SCI have not yet been explored.
To assess the impact of chronic SCI on peripheral T-cell number and function we used a mouse model of severe spinal cord contusion at thoracic level T9 and performed flow cytometry analysis on the spleen for T-cell markers along with intracellular cytokine staining. Furthermore we identified alterations in sympathetic activity in the spleen of chronic SCI mice by measuring splenic levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and norepinephrine (NE). To gain insight into the neurogenic mechanism leading to T-cell dysfunction we performed in vitro NE stimulation of T-cells followed by flow cytometry analysis for T-cell exhaustion marker.
Chronic SCI impaired both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell cytokine production. The observed T-cell dysfunction correlated with increased expression of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) exhaustion marker on these cells. Blocking PD-1 signaling in vitro restored the CD8+ T-cell functional defect. In addition, we showed that chronic SCI mice had higher levels of splenic NE, which contributed to the T-cell exhaustion phenotype, as PD-1 expression on both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells was up-regulated following sustained exposure to NE in vitro.
These studies indicate that alteration of sympathetic activity following chronic SCI induces CD8+ T-cell exhaustion, which in turn impairs T-cell function and contributes to immune depression. Inhibition of the exhaustion pathway should be considered as a new therapeutic strategy for chronic SCI-induced immune depression.
PMCID: PMC4230802  PMID: 24690491
Spinal cord injury; T-cell exhaustion; PD-1; Norepinephrine
8.  Inhibition of NADPH Oxidase Activation in Oligodendrocytes Reduces Cytotoxicity Following Trauma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80975.
Spinal cord injury is a debilitating neurological disorder that initiates a cascade of cellular events that result in a period of secondary damage that can last for months after the initial trauma. The ensuing outcome of these prolonged cellular perturbations is the induction of neuronal and glial cell death through excitotoxic mechanisms and subsequent free radical production. We have previously shown that astrocytes can directly induce oligodendrocyte death following trauma, but the mechanisms regulating this process within the oligodendrocyte remain unclear. Here we provide evidence demonstrating that astrocytes directly regulate oligodendrocyte death after trauma by inducing activation of NADPH oxidase within oligodendrocytes. Spinal cord injury resulted in a significant increase in oxidative damage which correlated with elevated expression of the gp91 phox subunit of the NADPH oxidase enzyme. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the presence of gp91 phox in oligodendrocytes in vitro and at 1 week following spinal cord injury. Exposure of oligodendrocytes to media from injured astrocytes resulted in an increase in oligodendrocyte NADPH oxidase activity. Inhibition of NADPH oxidase activation was sufficient to attenuate oligodendrocyte death in vitro and at 1 week following spinal cord injury, suggesting that excitotoxicity of oligodendrocytes after trauma is dependent on the intrinsic activation of the NADPH oxidase enzyme. Acute administration of the NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin and the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate channel blocker 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline-2,3-dione significantly improved locomotor behavior and preserved descending axon fibers following spinal cord injury. These studies lead to a better understanding of oligodendrocyte death after trauma and identify potential therapeutic targets in disorders involving demyelination and oligodendrocyte death.
PMCID: PMC3834306  PMID: 24260524
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.  Neuroendocrine and cardiac metabolic dysfunction and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in adipose tissue and pancreas following chronic spinal cord injury in the mouse 
ASN NEURO  2013;5(4):e00121.
CVD (cardiovascular disease) represents a leading cause of mortality in chronic SCI (spinal cord injury). Several component risk factors are observed in SCI; however, the underlying mechanisms that contribute to these risks have not been defined. Central and peripheral chronic inflammation is associated with metabolic dysfunction and CVD, including adipokine regulation of neuroendocrine and cardiac function and inflammatory processes initiated by the innate immune response. We use female C57 Bl/6 mice to examine neuroendocrine, cardiac, adipose and pancreatic signaling related to inflammation and metabolic dysfunction in response to experimentally induced chronic SCI. Using immuno-histochemical, -precipitation, and -blotting analysis, we show decreased POMC (proopiomelanocortin) and increased NPY (neuropeptide-Y) expression in the hypothalamic ARC (arcuate nucleus) and PVN (paraventricular nucleus), 1-month post-SCI. Long-form leptin receptor (Ob-Rb), JAK2 (Janus kinase)/STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3)/p38 and RhoA/ROCK (Rho-associated kinase) signaling is significantly increased in the heart tissue post-SCI, and we observe the formation and activation of the NLRP3 (NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3) inflammasome in VAT (visceral adipose tissue) and pancreas post-SCI. These data demonstrate neuroendocrine signaling peptide alterations, associated with central inflammation and metabolic dysfunction post-SCI, and provide evidence for the peripheral activation of signaling mechanisms involved in cardiac, VAT and pancreatic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction post-SCI. Further understanding of biological mechanisms contributing to SCI-related inflammatory processes and metabolic dysfunction associated with CVD pathology may help to direct therapeutic and rehabilitation countermeasures.
PMCID: PMC3789215  PMID: 23924318
cardiovascular disease; metabolism; neuroendocrine; pathophysiology; signal transduction; spinal cord injury; ASC, apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (CARD, q.v.); ARC, arcuate nucleus; CNS, central nervous system; CVD, cardiovascular disease; DAMPS, damage–associated molecular pattern molecules; FAO, fatty acid oxidation; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; IACUC, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; IL, interleukin; JAK, Janus kinase; MYPT1, myosin phosphatase target subunit 1; NLRP3, NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3; NPY, neuropeptide Y; PFA, paraformaldehyde; POMC, proopiomelanocortin; PVN, paraventricular nucleus; RBD, Rho-binding domain; ROCK, Rho-associated kinase; SCI, spinal cord injury; STAT, signal transducer and activator of transcription; VAT, visceral adipose tissue
11.  Inhibition of astroglial NF-kappaB enhances oligodendrogenesis following spinal cord injury 
Astrocytes are taking the center stage in neurotrauma and neurological diseases as they appear to play a dominant role in the inflammatory processes associated with these conditions. Previously, we reported that inhibiting NF-κB activation in astrocytes, using a transgenic mouse model (GFAP-IκBα-dn mice), results in improved functional recovery, increased white matter preservation and axonal sparing following spinal cord injury (SCI). In the present study, we sought to determine whether this improvement, due to inhibiting NF-κB activation in astrocytes, could be the result of enhanced oligodendrogenesis in our transgenic mice.
To assess oligodendrogenesis in GFAP-IκBα-dn compared to wild-type (WT) littermate mice following SCI, we used bromodeoxyuridine labeling along with cell-specific immuno-histochemistry, confocal microscopy and quantitative cell counts. To further gain insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms leading to increased white matter, we performed a microarray analysis in naïve and 3 days, 3 and 6 weeks following SCI in GFAP-IκBα-dn and WT littermate mice.
Inhibition of astroglial NF-κB in GFAP-IκBα-dn mice resulted in enhanced oligodendrogenesis 6 weeks following SCI and was associated with increased levels of myelin proteolipid protein compared to spinal cord injured WT mice. The microarray data showed a large number of differentially expressed genes involved in inflammatory and immune response between WT and transgenic mice. We did not find any difference in the number of microglia/leukocytes infiltrating the spinal cord but did find differences in their level of expression of toll-like receptor 4. We also found increased expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 on oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and mature oligodendrocytes in the transgenic mice. Finally TNF receptor 2 levels were significantly higher in the transgenic mice compared to WT following injury.
These studies suggest that one of the beneficial roles of blocking NF-κB in astrocytes is to promote oligodendrogenesis through alteration of the inflammatory environment.
PMCID: PMC3751509  PMID: 23880092
NF-kappaB; Spinal cord injury; Astrocyte; Oligodendrocyte; Microglia; CXCR4; TNFR2; Toll-like receptor
12.  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
13.  Nuclear Factor Kappa B Signaling Initiates Early Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2012;30(3):510-524.
Inflammatory mediators, many of which activate the signaling of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), have received increasing attention in the field of neurogenesis. NFκB signaling regulates neurite outgrowth and neural plasticity as well as the proliferation/apoptosis and terminal differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs). Early neurogenesis from NSCs produces identical progeny through symmetric division and committed daughter cells through asymmetric division. Here, we show that NFκB signaling is required for NSC initial differentiation. The canonical IKKβ/IκBα/ p65 pathway is activated during the initial stages of neural differentiation induced by treatment with TNFα or with- drawal of epidermal growth factor/basic fibroblast growth factor. NSC-specific inhibition of NFκB in transgenic mice causes an accumulation of Nestin+/Sox2+/glial fibrillary acidic protein+ NSCs. Inhibition of NFκB signaling in vitro blocks differentiation and asymmetric division and maintains NSCs in an undifferentiated state. The induction of initial differentiation and asymmetry by NFκB signaling occurs through the inhibition of C/EBPβ expression. Our data reveal a novel function of NFκB signaling in early neurogenesis and provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3707487  PMID: 22134901
Neural stem cells; Nuclear factor kappa B; Neurogenesis; C/EBPβ; Glial fibrillary acidic protein; Cell division
14.  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
15.  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
16.  Alterations in Mouse Hypothalamic Adipokine Gene Expression and Leptin Signaling following Chronic Spinal Cord Injury and with Advanced Age 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41073.
Chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) results in an accelerated trajectory of several cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and related aging characteristics, however the molecular mechanisms that are activated have not been explored. Adipokines and leptin signaling are known to play a critical role in neuro-endocrine regulation of energy metabolism, and are now implicated in central inflammatory processes associated with CVD. Here, we examine hypothalamic adipokine gene expression and leptin signaling in response to chronic spinal cord injury and with advanced age. We demonstrate significant changes in fasting-induced adipose factor (FIAF), resistin (Rstn), long-form leptin receptor (LepRb) and suppressor of cytokine-3 (SOCS3) gene expression following chronic SCI and with advanced age. LepRb and Jak2/stat3 signaling is significantly decreased and the leptin signaling inhibitor SOCS3 is significantly elevated with chronic SCI and advanced age. In addition, we investigate endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activation of the uncoupled protein response (UPR) as a biological hallmark of leptin resistance. We observe the activation of the ER stress/UPR proteins IRE1, PERK, and eIF2alpha, demonstrating leptin resistance in chronic SCI and with advanced age. These findings provide evidence for adipokine-mediated inflammatory responses and leptin resistance as contributing to neuro-endocrine dysfunction and CVD risk following SCI and with advanced age. Understanding the underlying mechanisms contributing to SCI and age related CVD may provide insight that will help direct specific therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3397960  PMID: 22815920
17.  IκB kinase 2 determines oligodendrocyte loss by non-cell-autonomous activation of NF-κB in the central nervous system 
Brain  2011;134(4):1184-1198.
The IκB kinase complex induces nuclear factor kappa B activation and has recently been recognized as a key player of autoimmunity in the central nervous system. Notably, IκB kinase/nuclear factor kappa B signalling regulates peripheral myelin formation by Schwann cells, however, its role in myelin formation in the central nervous system during health and disease is largely unknown. Surprisingly, we found that brain-specific IκB kinase 2 expression is dispensable for proper myelin assembly and repair in the central nervous system, but instead plays a fundamental role for the loss of myelin in the cuprizone model. During toxic demyelination, inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B activation by conditional ablation of IκB kinase 2 resulted in strong preservation of central nervous system myelin, reduced expression of proinflammatory mediators and a significantly attenuated glial response. Importantly, IκB kinase 2 depletion in astrocytes, but not in oligodendrocytes, was sufficient to protect mice from myelin loss. Our results reveal a crucial role of glial cell-specific IκB kinase 2/nuclear factor kappa B signalling for oligodendrocyte damage during toxic demyelination. Thus, therapies targeting IκB kinase 2 function in non-neuronal cells may represent a promising strategy for the treatment of distinct demyelinating central nervous system diseases.
PMCID: PMC4055835  PMID: 21310728
oligodendrocyte; demyelination; remyelination; NF-κB; glia; cuprizone; multiple sclerosis
18.  Neural progenitors proliferation is inhibited by EphB3 in the developing subventricular zone 
The subventricular zone (SVZ) of the mammalian forebrain is a major source of multipotent stem cells during development, and contributes to neurogenesis throughout the lifespan of the organism. Several studies described molecules regulating adult neurogenesis, however, few of them have examined neurogenesis in the early postnatal period. Adult neurogenesis is regulated in part by ephrinB3 and its receptors, so we examined the role of EphB3 on neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) proliferation in early postnatal development in the SVZ. To examine NSPCs proliferation, we used BrdU incorporation in both cultured NSPCs and neonatal gene-targeted knockout mice, as well as Ki67 immunostaining in EphB3−/− mice. We observed a significant increase in proliferation in cultured NSPCs derived from EphB3−/− mice and in the SVZ of EphB3−/− mice. These studies support an anti-proliferative role for EphB3 in regulating NSPCs numbers in the developing SVZ.
PMCID: PMC3004986  PMID: 20969945
EphB3; neural progenitor cell; neonate
19.  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
20.  EphB3 Inhibits the Expansion of Neural Progenitor Cells in the SVZ by Regulating p53 During Homeostasis and Following Traumatic Brain Injury 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2010;28(7):1231-1242.
Ephrins and Eph receptor(s) have recently been implicated in regulating neurogenesis in the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) and rostral migratory stream (RMS). Here, we examined the role of ephrinB3-EphB3 signaling in mediating the SVZ response to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Analysis of EphB3 expression showed co-localization with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) and doublecortin-positive neuroblasts, while ephrinB3 was expressed outside the neurogenic region. TBI resulted in a significant reduction in EphB3 expression, which coincided with enhanced NSPC survival and proliferation at 3 and 7 days post-injury. Analysis of mice lacking either ephrinB3 (ephrinB3−/−) or EphB3 (EphB3−/−) showed a significant increase in bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation and Ki67 immunoreactivity in the SVZ. Interestingly, cell death was dissimilar between knockout mice, where cell death was reduced in EphB3−/− but increased in ephrinB3−/− mice. Lateral ventricle infusion of soluble pre-clustered ephrinB3-Fc reversed the proliferative and cell death defects in ephrinB3−/− but not EphB3−/− mice and prevented TBI-induced proliferation in wild type NSPCs. Coincidently, tumor suppressor p53 expression was increased following EphB3 stimulation and is reduced in the absence of either EphB3 or ephrinB3. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition and siRNA knockdown of p53 attenuated ephrinB3-Fc mediated growth suppression while having no effect on cell death in cultured NSPCs. These data demonstrate that EphB3 signaling suppresses NSPC proliferation in a p53-dependent manner, induces cell death in the absence of ligand stimulation and is transiently reduced in the SVZ to initiate the expansion and survival of endogenous adult NSPCs following TBI.
PMCID: PMC2967180  PMID: 20496368
traumatic brain injury; ephrin; Eph; subventricular zone; p53
21.  EphrinBs regulate D-serine synthesis and release in astrocytes 
There is growing evidence that astrocytes play critical roles in neuron-glial interactions at the synapse. Astrocytes are believed to regulate pre- and post-synaptic structures and functions, in part, by the release of gliotransmitters such as glutamate, ATP and D-serine; however, little is known of how neurons and astrocytes communicate to regulate these processes. Here, we investigated a family of transmembrane proteins called ephrins and Eph receptors that are expressed in the synapse and are known to regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity. In addition to their presence on CA1 hippocampal neurons, we determined that ephrins and Eph receptors are also expressed on hippocampal astrocytes. Stimulation of hippocampal astrocytes with soluble ephrinB3, known to be expressed on CA1 post-synaptic dendrites, enhanced D-serine synthesis and release in culture. Conversely, ephrinB3 had no effect on D-serine release from astrocytes deficient in EphB3 and EphA4, which are the primary receptors for ephrinB3. Eph receptors mediate this response through interactions with PICK1 and by dephosphorylating PKCα to activate the conversion of L-serine to D-serine by serine racemase. These findings are supported in vivo, where reduced D-serine levels and synaptic transmissions are observed in the absence of EphB3 and EphA4. These data support a role for ephrins and Eph receptors in regulating astrocyte gliotransmitters, which may have important implications on synaptic transmission and plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3073557  PMID: 21106840
Ephrins; Eph receptors; Astrocyte; glutamate; D-serine; gliotransmitter
22.  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
23.  EphrinB3 is an Anti-apoptotic Ligand that Inhibits the Dependence Receptor Functions of EphA4 Receptors during adult neurogenesis 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2008;1793(2):231-238.
Eph receptors have been implicated in regulating a diverse array of cellular functions in the developing nervous system. Recently, Eph receptors have been shown to promote cell death in adult germinal zones; however, their mechanisms of action remain ill-defined. In this study, we demonstrate that EphA4 is a new member of the dependence receptors family, which can initiate cell death in the absence of its ligand ephrinB3. Upon removal of its ligand, EphA4 triggers cell death that is dependent on caspase activation as caspase inhibitors prevent cell death. EphA4 itself is cleaved by caspase-3-like caspase in the intracellular domain at position D773/774, which is necessary for cell death initiation as mutation of the cleavage site abolishes apoptosis. In the adult subventricular zone, abolishing ephrinB3 results in increased cell death, while the absence of EphA4 results in excessive numbers of neuroblasts. Furthermore, infusion of soluble ephrinB3 into the lateral ventricle reduced cell death, and together these results support a dependence role for EphA4 in adult neurogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2631096  PMID: 18948148
Ephrins; Eph receptors; Dependence Receptor; Apoptosis

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