Induction of an inflammatory loop by interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α involves NF-kB and STAT-1 in differentiated human neuroprogenitor cells

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 29;8(7):e69585. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069585. Print 2013.


Proinflammatory cytokines secreted from microglia are known to induce a secondary immune response in astrocytes leading to an inflammatory loop. Cytokines also interfere with neurogenesis during aging and in neurodegenerative diseases. The present study examined the mechanism of induction of inflammatory mediators at the transcriptional level in human differentiated neuroprogenitor cells (NPCs). Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) induced the expression of cytokines and chemokines in differentiated human NPCs as shown by an immune pathway-specific array. Network motif (NM) analysis of these genes revealed 118 three-node NMs, suggesting complex interactions between inflammatory mediators and transcription factors. Immunofluorescent staining showed increases in the levels of IL-8 and CXCL10 proteins in neurons and glial cells. Findings from Taqman low density array suggested the synergistic actions of IL-1β and TNF-α in the induction of a majority of inflammatory genes by a mechanism involving NF-kB and STAT-1. Nuclear localization of these transcription factors in differentiated NPCs was observed following exposure to IL-1α and TNF-α. Further studies on CXCL10, a chemokine known to be elevated in the Alzheimer's brain, showed that TNF-α is a stronger inducer of CXCL10 promoter when compared to IL-1β. The synergy between these cytokines was lost when ISRE or kB elements in CXCL10 promoter were mutated. Our findings suggest that the activation of inflammatory pathways in neurons and astrocytes through transcription factors including NF-kB and STAT-1 play important roles in neuroglial interactions and in sustaining the vicious cycle of inflammatory response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NF-kappa B
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha