Induction of pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNAs in the brain after peripheral injection of subseptic doses of lipopolysaccharide in the rat

J Neuroimmunol. 1999 Jan 1;93(1-2):72-80. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5728(98)00193-3.


Although it is generally accepted that pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by cells of the central nervous system play important roles in the communication between the central nervous system and the immune system during sepsis, it is not clear whether these cytokines are produced in the brain under subseptic conditions. In this study, we used in situ hybridization to examine the mRNA expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta and TNFalpha in the brains of rats 2 and 12 h after they were challenged by peripheral injections of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) ranging from 0.01 to 1000 microg/kg. Unlike septic doses of LPS (> 500 microg/kg), which induce global expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain, subseptic doses of LPS (0.01-10 microg/kg) induced IL-1beta and TNFalpha mRNA expression only in the choroid plexus, the circumventricular organs, and meninges. The expression of the cytokine-responsive immediate early gene I kappaB alpha was induced in the brain after doses of LPS as low as 0.1 microg/kg. I kappaB alpha mRNA expression was confined to sites where IL-1beta and TNFalpha were expressed. These results indicate that the induction and action of pro-inflammatory cytokines during subseptic infection occur at the blood-brain barrier and at circumventricular organs, which may be sites for elaboration of signal molecules that communicate peripheral immune status to the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Caspase 1 / immunology
  • Caspase 1 / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / chemically induced
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / immunology
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-1 / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / chemistry
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / enzymology
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / immunology
  • Solitary Nucleus / chemistry
  • Solitary Nucleus / enzymology
  • Solitary Nucleus / immunology
  • Subfornical Organ / chemistry
  • Subfornical Organ / enzymology
  • Subfornical Organ / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Interleukin-1
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Caspase 1