Astrocytes Are Primed by Chronic Neurodegeneration to Produce Exaggerated Chemokine and Cell Infiltration Responses to Acute Stimulation with the Cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α

J Neurosci. 2015 Jun 3;35(22):8411-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2745-14.2015.


Microgliosis and astrogliosis are standard pathological features of neurodegenerative disease. Microglia are primed by chronic neurodegeneration such that toll-like receptor agonists, such as LPS, drive exaggerated cytokine responses on this background. However, sterile inflammatory insults are more common than direct CNS infection in the degenerating brain and these insults drive robust IL-1β and TNF-α responses. It is unclear whether these pro-inflammatory cytokines can directly induce exaggerated responses in the degenerating brain. We hypothesized that glial cells in the hippocampus of animals with chronic neurodegenerative disease (ME7 prion disease) would display exaggerated responses to central cytokine challenges. TNF-α or IL-1β were administered intrahippocampally to ME7-inoculated mice and normal brain homogenate-injected (NBH) controls. Both IL-1β and TNF-α produced much more robust IL-1β synthesis in ME7 than in NBH animals and this occurred exclusively in microglia. However, there was strong nuclear localization of the NFκB subunit p65 in the astrocyte population, associated with marked astrocytic synthesis of the chemokines CXCL1 and CCL2 in response to both cytokine challenges in ME7 animals. Conversely, very limited expression of these chemokines was apparent in NBH animals similarly challenged. Thus, astrocytes are primed in the degenerating brain to produce exaggerated chemokine responses to acute stimulation with pro-inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, this results in markedly increased neutrophil, T-cell, and monocyte infiltration in the diseased brain. These data have significant implications for acute sterile inflammatory insults such as stroke and traumatic brain injury occurring on a background of aging or neurodegeneration.

Keywords: astrocyte; chemokine; cytokine; microglia; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects*
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / drug effects
  • Prion Diseases / drug therapy
  • Prion Diseases / pathology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Chemokines
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha