Inflammatory transcription factors as activation markers and functional readouts in immune-to-brain communication

Brain Behav Immun. 2016 May:54:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.09.003. Epub 2015 Sep 5.


Immune-to-brain communication pathways involve humoral mediators, including cytokines, central modulation by neuronal afferents and immune cell trafficking to the brain. During systemic inflammation these pathways contribute to mediating brain-controlled sickness symptoms including fever. Experimentally, activation of these signaling pathways can be mimicked and studied when injecting animals with pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPS). One central component of the brain inflammatory response, which leads, for example, to fever induction, is transcriptional activation of brain cells via cytokines and PAMPS. We and others have studied the spatiotemporal activation and the physiological significance of transcription factors for the induction of inflammation within the brain and the manifestation of fever. Evidence has revealed a role of nuclear factor (NF)κB in the initiation, signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 in the maintenance and NF-interleukin (IL)6 in the maintenance or even termination of brain-inflammation and fever. Moreover, psychological stressors, such as exposure to a novel environment, leads to increased body core temperature and genomic NF-IL6-activation, suggesting a potential use of NF-IL6-immunohistochemistry as a multimodal brain cell activation marker and a role for NF-IL6 for differential brain activity. In addition, the nutritional status, as reflected by circulating levels of the cytokine-like hormone leptin, influence immune-to-brain communication and age-dependent changes in LPS-induced fever. Overall, transcription factors remain therapeutically important targets for the treatment of brain-inflammation and fever induction during infectious/non-infectious inflammatory and psychological stress. However, the exact physiological role and significance of these transcription factors requires to be further investigated.

Keywords: Brain-inflammation; Cytokines; Fever; Immune-to-brain signaling; Leptin; Nuclear factor interleukin 6; Nuclear factor kappa B; Pathogen-associated molecular pattern; Prostaglandins; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Transcription Factors / immunology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Transcription Factors