Peripheral inflammatory mechanisms modulate microglial activation in response to mild impairment of oxidative metabolism

Neurochem Int. 2006 Oct;49(5):548-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2006.04.011. Epub 2006 Jun 14.


Thiamine deficiency (TD) models the selective neurodegeneration that accompanies the mild impairment of oxidative metabolism, which is observed in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. Several markers of inflammation accompany neuronal death in TD and in these diseases. Studies in the submedial thalamic nucleus (SmTN), the region most sensitive to TD, have begun to define the temporal response of inflammation, immune response and neurodegeneration. Our previous studies show that the immune response is involved in TD-induced neurodegeneration. The current experiments tested the roles of other inflammatory cascades in TD-induced neuronal death. Deletion of genes for CD4, or CD8 (the co-receptors for T-cells), IFN-gamma (the cytokine produced by T-cell), or NADPH oxidase (the inflammation related oxidase) were tested. None protected against neuronal death in late stages of TD. On the other hand, deletion of the genes for CD4, CD8 and IFN-gamma increased the microglial activation, and deletion of the gene for NADPH oxidase decreased microglial activation when compared to control mice. In wild type mice, TD caused hypertrophy of CD68 positive microglia without increasing the number of microglia. However, TD induced hypertrophy and proliferation of CD68-positive microglia in the CD4 (97%), CD8 (57%) or IFN-gamma (96%) genetic knockout mice. In the genetic knockout mice for NADPH oxidase, the microglial activation was 65% less than the wild type mice. The results demonstrate that mice deficient in specific T cells (CD4-/-, CD8-/-) or activated T cell product, (IFN-gamma-/-) have increased microglia activation, but mice deficient in NADPH oxidase have decreased microglial activation. However, at the time point tested, the deletions were not neuroprotective. The results suggest that inflammatory responses play a role in TD-induced pathological changes in the brain, and the inflammation appears to be a late event that reflects a response to neuronal damage, which may spread the damage to other brain regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • NADPH Oxidases