In the rat pineal gland, prominent expression of serine protease inhibitor 3 (SPI-3) mRNA is seen after systemic injection of lipopolysaccharide. The up-regulation of SPI-3 mRNA expression is also confirmed by northern blotting. Most SPI-3 mRNA-positive cells simultaneously express synaptophysin, a marker for pinealocytes, but not glial fibrillary acidic protein, a marker for astrocytes. This indicates that SPI-3 mRNA-positive cells are pinealocytes. Almost all SPI-3 mRNA-positive cells also showed translocation of the signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) into nuclei after lipopolysaccharide injection. These data support previous in vitro results that SPI-3 expression is induced in a STAT3-mediated manner. In addition, the expression of ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor (CNTFR) and leukemia inhibitory factor receptor (LIFR) mRNAs, but not of interleukin 6 receptor mRNA, was up-regulated after systemic lipopolysaccharide treatment. Because these receptors are upstream of STAT3, the present results suggest that cytokines such as LIF and/or CNTF induce SPI-3 expression via STAT3 in the pineal gland in response to inflammatory stimulus. We conclude that although the functional consequences of SPI-3 in the pineal gland during systemic inflammation are unknown, SPI-3 may have a crucial role in preventing some degenerative proteolysis induced by inflammatory stimuli.
Copyright 2002 IBRO