We reported that the ethanol-induced innate immune response by activating TLR4 signaling triggers gliosis and neuroinflammation. Ethanol also activates other immune receptors, such as NOD-like-receptors, and specifically NLRP3-inflammasome in astroglial cells, to stimulate caspase-1 cleavage and IL-1β and IL-18 cytokines production. Yet, whether microglia NLRs are also sensitive to the ethanol effects that contribute to neuroinflammation is uncertain. Using cerebral cortexes of the chronic alcohol-fed WT and TLR4(-/-) mice, we demonstrated that chronic ethanol treatment enhanced TLR4 mediated-NLRP3/Caspase-1 complex activation, and up-regulated pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines levels. Ethanol-induced NLRP3-inflammasome activation and mitochondria-ROS generation were also observed in cultured microglial cells. The up-regulation of CD45(high)/CD11b(+) cell populations and matrix metalloproteinase-9 levels was also noted in the cortexes of the ethanol-treated WT mice. Notably, elimination of the TLR4 function abolished most ethanol-induced neuroinflammatory effects. Thus, our results demonstrate that ethanol triggers TLR4-mediated NLRP3-inflammasome activation in glial cells, and suggest that microglia stimulation may compromise the permeability of blood-brain barrier events to contribute to ethanol-induced neuroinflammation and brain damage.
Keywords: Alcohol; BBB; Leukocyte infiltration; Matrix metalloproteinase; Microglia; TLR4.