Klotho controls the brain-immune system interface in the choroid plexus

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Nov 27;115(48):E11388-E11396. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808609115. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


Located within the brain's ventricles, the choroid plexus produces cerebrospinal fluid and forms an important barrier between the central nervous system and the blood. For unknown reasons, the choroid plexus produces high levels of the protein klotho. Here, we show that these levels naturally decline with aging. Depleting klotho selectively from the choroid plexus via targeted viral vector-induced knockout in Klothoflox/flox mice increased the expression of multiple proinflammatory factors and triggered macrophage infiltration of this structure in young mice, simulating changes in unmanipulated old mice. Wild-type mice infected with the same Cre recombinase-expressing virus did not show such alterations. Experimental depletion of klotho from the choroid plexus enhanced microglial activation in the hippocampus after peripheral injection of mice with lipopolysaccharide. In primary cultures, klotho suppressed thioredoxin-interacting protein-dependent activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in macrophages by enhancing fibroblast growth factor 23 signaling. We conclude that klotho functions as a gatekeeper at the interface between the brain and immune system in the choroid plexus. Klotho depletion in aging or disease may weaken this barrier and promote immune-mediated neuropathogenesis.

Keywords: aging; choroid plexus; inflammation; klotho; macrophage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Choroid Plexus / immunology*
  • Female
  • Glucuronidase / genetics
  • Glucuronidase / immunology*
  • Hippocampus / immunology
  • Humans
  • Klotho Proteins
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / genetics
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / immunology


  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Nlrp3 protein, mouse
  • Glucuronidase
  • Klotho Proteins