Peripheral lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge promotes microglial hyperactivity in aged mice that is associated with exaggerated induction of both pro-inflammatory IL-1beta and anti-inflammatory IL-10 cytokines

Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Mar;23(3):309-17. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Sep 12.


In the elderly, systemic infection is associated with an increased frequency of behavioral and cognitive complications. We have reported that peripheral stimulation of the innate immune system with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) causes an exaggerated neuroinflammatory response and prolonged sickness/depressive-like behaviors in aged BALB/c mice. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which LPS-induced neuroinflammation was associated with microglia-specific induction of neuroinflammatory mediators. Here, we show that peripheral LPS challenge caused a hyperactive microglial response in the aged brain associated with higher induction of inflammatory IL-1beta and anti-inflammatory IL-10. LPS injection caused a marked induction of mRNA expression of both IL-1beta and IL-10 in the cortex of aged mice compared to adults. In the next set of studies, microglia (CD11b(+)/CD45(low)) were isolated from the brain of adult and aged mice following experimental treatments. An age-dependent increase in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II mRNA and protein expression was detected in microglia. Moreover, peripheral LPS injection caused a more pronounced increase in IL-1beta, IL-10, Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2, and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) mRNA levels in microglia isolated from aged mice than adults. Intracellular cytokine protein detection confirmed that peripheral LPS caused the highest increase in IL-1beta and IL-10 levels in microglia of aged mice. Finally, the most prominent induction of IL-1beta was detected in MHC II(+) microglia from aged mice. Taken together, these findings provide novel evidence that age-associated priming of microglia plays a central role in exaggerated neuroinflammation induced by activation of the peripheral innate immune system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-10