Activation of microglial cells by the CD40 pathway: relevance to multiple sclerosis

J Neuroimmunol. 1999 Jun 1;97(1-2):77-85. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5728(99)00053-3.


It is well known that microglial cells perform a key role in mediating inflammatory processes, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we report that CD40 expression on microglia is greatly enhanced by a low dose (10 U/ml) of IFN-gamma. We also find that ligation of microglial CD40 by CD40L triggers a significant production of TNF-alpha. Activation of microglia by ligation of CD40 in the presence of IFN-gamma results in cultured cortical neuronal injury, which is markedly attenuated by blockade of the CD40 pathway or neutralization of TNF-alpha. Finally, we find significant levels of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha in the medium of co-cultured activated CD4+ T cells and microglial cells, showing that microglia can supply the CD40 receptor to activated CD4+ T cells and suggesting that this cellular interaction is a key event in MS pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD40 Antigens / immunology
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism*
  • CD40 Ligand
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Microglia / chemistry
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / immunology
  • Tritium
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacokinetics


  • CD40 Antigens
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Tritium
  • CD40 Ligand
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Interferon-gamma
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase