Increased CCL6 expression in astrocytes and neuronal protection from neuron-astrocyte interactions

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2019 Nov 19;519(4):777-782. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2019.09.030. Epub 2019 Sep 21.


Astrocytes have been reported to exhibit neuroprotective action via various chemokines. Reports of the chemokine CCL6 in central nervous system cells show expression in cultured microglia, but many unexplained effects on neurons and astrocytes remain. In this study, cultured cerebral cortical neurons, astrocytes, and a mixed culture system were constructed, and expression levels of CCL6 and its effects on glutamate neurotoxicity were examined. When neuron cultures and neuron-astrocyte mixed cultures were treated with glutamate, neuronal cell death was observed in both, but was induced by lower concentrations of glutamate in monocultured neurons. In addition, pretreatment of neuron cultures with conditioned media from neuron-astrocyte mixed cultures inhibited glutamate neurotoxicity. CCL6 expression was not observed in fluorescence activated cell sorting analyses of neuron and astrocyte cultures, but was observed in astrocytes from cocultures of neurons and astrocytes. Higher CCL6 concentrations were found in media from cocultures of neurons and astrocytes than in culture media from neuron cultures. Pretreatment of neuron cell cultures with CCL6 for 24 h also protected against glutamate neurotoxicity. This protective effect was suppressed by an antagonist of the chemokine receptor CCR1. Furthermore, glutamate neurotoxicity in mixed neuron and astrocyte cultures was enhanced by pretreatments with the CCR1 antagonist. Finally, cotreatments with the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor and CCL6 abolished the neuroprotective effects of CCL6. These data suggest that astrocytes protect neurons by activating CCR1 in neurons. Moreover, this neuroprotective action of astrocyte CCL6 is mediated by CCR1, and downstream by PI3K.

Keywords: CCL6; Coculture; Glutamate; Neuron–astrocyte interaction; Neuroprotection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines, CC / genetics*
  • Chemokines, CC / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuroprotective Agents* / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Ccl6 protein, rat
  • Chemokines, CC
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Glutamic Acid