Inhibitors of Oxidative Phosphorylation Modulate Astrocyte Inflammatory Responses through AMPK-Dependent Ptgs2 mRNA Stabilization

Cells. 2019 Oct 1;8(10):1185. doi: 10.3390/cells8101185.


Inflammatory activation of astroglia adds to the pathology of various neurological diseases. Astrocytes respond to microglia-derived cytokines such as interleukin-1α (IL-1α) with enhanced inflammatory signaling. This provokes pro-inflammatory gene expression of, among others, the eicosanoid-generating enzyme prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase 2 (Ptgs2). Whereas metabolic regulation of innate immune cell inflammatory responses is intensely studied, pathways related to how metabolism modulates inflammatory signaling in astrocytes are underexplored. Here, we examined how mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation affects inflammatory responses towards IL-1α and tumor necrosis factor α in neonatal rat astrocytes. Blocking respiratory complex I and III or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase did not affect activation of inflammatory signaling by IL-1α, but did elicit differential effects on inflammatory gene mRNA expression. Remarkably, mRNA and protein expression of Ptgs2 by IL-1α was consistently up-regulated when oxidative phosphorylation was inhibited. The increase of Ptgs2 resulted from mRNA stabilization. Mitochondrial inhibitors also increased IL-1α-triggered secretion of eicosanoids, such as prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin F, and 6-keto-prostaglandin F, as assessed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Mechanistically, attenuating oxidative phosphorylation elevated adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and activated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK silencing prevented Ptgs2 up-regulation by mitochondrial inhibitors, while AMPK activators recapitulated Ptgs2 mRNA stability regulation. Our data indicate modulation of astrocyte inflammatory responses by oxidative metabolism, with relevance towards eicosanoid production.

Keywords: astrocytes; inflammation; mitochondria; prostaglandins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-1alpha / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Interleukin-1alpha
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Ptgs2 protein, rat
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases