Murine glia express the immunosuppressive cytokine, interleukin-10, following exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi or Neisseria meningitidis

Glia. 2006 Apr 15;53(6):583-92. doi: 10.1002/glia.20314.


There is growing appreciation that resident glial cells can initiate and/or regulate inflammation following trauma or infection in the central nervous system (CNS). We have previously demonstrated the ability of microglia and astrocytes, resident glial cells of the CNS, to respond to bacterial pathogens by rapid production of inflammatory mediators. However, inflammation within the brain parenchyma is notably absent during some chronic bacterial infections in humans and nonhuman primates. In the present study, we demonstrate the ability of the immunosuppressive cytokine, interleukin-10 (IL-10), to inhibit inflammatory immune responses of primary microglia and astrocytes to B. burgdorferi and N. meningitidis, two disparate gram negative bacterial species that can cross the blood-brain barrier in humans. Importantly, we demonstrate that these organisms induce the delayed production of significant quantities of IL-10 by both microglia and astrocytes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that such production occurs independent of the actions of bacterial lipopolysaccharide and is secondary to the autocrine or paracrine actions of other glia-derived soluble mediators. The late onset of IL-10 production by resident glia following activation, the previously documented expression of specific receptors for this cytokine on microglia and astrocytes, and the ability of IL-10 to inhibit bacterially induced immune responses by these cells, suggest a mechanism by which resident glial cells can limit potentially damaging inflammation within the CNS in response to invading pathogens, and could explain the suppression of inflammation seen within the brain parenchyma during chronic bacterial infections.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / immunology
  • Borrelia Infections / immunology
  • Borrelia Infections / metabolism
  • Borrelia Infections / physiopathology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis / immunology
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / microbiology
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / metabolism
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • Neisseriaceae Infections / immunology
  • Neisseriaceae Infections / metabolism
  • Neisseriaceae Infections / physiopathology
  • Neuroglia / immunology*
  • Neuroglia / microbiology
  • Paracrine Communication / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Interleukin-10