Up-regulation of ciliary neurotrophic factor in astrocytes by aspirin: implications for remyelination in multiple sclerosis

J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 21;288(25):18533-45. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.447268. Epub 2013 May 7.


Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is a promyelinating trophic factor, and the mechanisms by which CNTF expression could be increased in the brain are poorly understood. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is one of the most widely used analgesics. Interestingly, aspirin increased mRNA and protein expression of CNTF in primary mouse and human astrocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Aspirin induced the activation of protein kinase A (PKA) but not protein kinase C (PKC). H-89, an inhibitor of PKA, abrogated aspirin-induced expression of CNTF. The activation of cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB), but not NF-κB, by aspirin, the abrogation of aspirin-induced expression of CNTF by siRNA knockdown of CREB, the presence of a consensus cAMP-response element in the promoter of CNTF, and the recruitment of CREB and CREB-binding protein to the CNTF promoter by aspirin suggest that aspirin increases the expression of the Cntf gene via the activation of CREB. Furthermore, we demonstrate that aspirin-induced astroglial CNTF was also functionally active and that supernatants of aspirin-treated astrocytes of wild type, but not Cntf null, mice increased myelin-associated proteins in oligodendrocytes and protected oligodendrocytes from TNF-α insult. These results highlight a new and novel myelinogenic property of aspirin, which may be of benefit for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating disorders.

Keywords: Astrocytes; CNTF; CREB; Cell Death; Oligodendrocytes; Protein Kinase A (PKA).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Aspirin / pharmacology*
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / drug effects*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Multiple Sclerosis / genetics
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Myelin Sheath / drug effects
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Aspirin