Background: Ischemic stroke results in a robust inflammatory response within the central nervous system. As the immune-inhibitory CD200-CD200 receptor 1 (CD200R1) signaling axis is a known regulator of immune homeostasis, we hypothesized that it may play a role in post-stroke immune suppression after stroke.
Methods: In this study, we investigated the role of CD200R1-mediated signaling in stroke using CD200 receptor 1-deficient mice. Mice were subjected to a 60-min middle cerebral artery occlusion and evaluated at days 3 and 7, representing the respective peak and early resolution stages of neuroinflammation in this model of ischemic stroke. Infarct size and behavioral deficits were assessed at both time points. Central and peripheral cellular immune responses were measured using flow cytometry. Bacterial colonization was determined in lung tissue homogenates both after acute stroke and in an LPS model of systemic inflammation.
Results: In wild-type (WT) animals, CD200R1 was expressed on infiltrating monocytes and lymphocytes after stroke but was absent on microglia. Early after ischemia (72 h), CD200R1-knockout (KO) mice had significantly poorer survival rates and an enhanced susceptibility to spontaneous bacterial colonization of the respiratory tract compared to wild-type (WT) controls, despite no difference in infarct or neurological deficits. While the CNS inflammation was resolved by day 7 post-stroke in WT mice, brain-resident microglia and monocyte activation persisted in CD200R1-KO mice, accompanied by a delayed, augmented lymphocyte response. At this time point, CD200R1-KO mice displayed greater weight loss, more severe neurological deficits, and impaired motor function compared to WT. Systemically, CD200R1-KO mice exhibited signs of persistent infection including lymphopenia, T cell activation and memory conversion, and narrowing of the TCR repertoire. These findings were confirmed in a second model of acute neuroinflammation induced by systemic endotoxin challenge.
Conclusion: This study defines an essential role of CD200-CD200R1 signaling in stroke. Loss of CD200R1 led to high mortality, increased rates of post-stroke infection, and enhanced entry of peripheral leukocytes into the brain after ischemia, with no increase in infarct size. This suggests that the loss of CD200 receptor leads to enhanced peripheral inflammation that is triggered by brain injury.
Keywords: CD200R1; Immunosuppression; Ischemic stroke; Microglia.