Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients frequently suffer from anxiety disorders and depression, indicating that altered gut-brain axis signalling during gastrointestinal inflammation is a risk factor for psychiatric disease. Microglia, immune cells of the brain, is thought to be involved in a number of mental disorders, but their role in IBD is largely unknown. In the current work, we investigated whether colitis induced by dextran sulphate sodium (DSS), a murine model of IBD, alters microglial phenotypes in the brain. We found that colitis caused a reduction of Iba-1 and CD68 immunoreactivity, microglial activation markers, in specific brain regions of the limbic system such as the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), while other areas remained unaffected. Flow cytometry showed an increase of monocyte-derived macrophages during colitis and gene expression analysis in the mPFC showed pronounced changes of microglial markers including cluster of differentiation 86 (CD86), tumour necrosis factor-α, nitric oxide synthase 2, CD206 and chitinase-like protein 3 consistent with both M1 and M2 activation. Taken together, these findings suggest that experimental colitis-induced inflammation is propagated to the brain altering microglial function.
Conflict of interest statement
This work was supported by the Austrian Science fund (FWF); grant number: P 25912-B23.
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