Astrocytes modulate the chemokine network in a pathogen-specific manner

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Apr 16;394(4):1006-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.03.111. Epub 2010 Mar 21.


Immune responses in the central nervous system (CNS) are carefully regulated. Despite the absence of most immune processes and a substantive blood brain barrier, potent immune responses form during infection and autoimmunity. Astrocytes are innate immune sentinels that ensheath parenchymal blood vessels and sit at the gateway to the CNS parenchyma. Viral and bacterial infections trigger the influx of distinct leukocyte subsets. We show that astrocytes alone are sufficient for distinguishing between these two main types of infection and triggers release of relevant chemokines that relate to the microbe recognised. Bacterial-associated molecules induced the preferential expression of CCL2, CXCL1, CCL20 and CCL3 whilst a virus-associated dsRNA analogue preferentially up-regulated CXCL10 and CCL5. Thus, astrocytes can respond to infection in a distinct and appropriate manner suggesting they have the capacity to attract appropriate sets of leukocytes into the brain parenchyma. Astrocytes themselves are unable to respond to these chemokines since they were devoid of most chemokine receptors but expressed CXCR4, CXCR7 and CXCR6 at rest. Stimulation with TGF-beta specifically up-regulated CXCR6 expression and may explain how TGF-beta/CXCL16-expressing gliomas are so effective at attracting astroglial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / immunology*
  • Astrocytes / microbiology*
  • Astrocytes / virology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism


  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, Chemokine