Background: Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions containing TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) are a neuropathological feature of several neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Emerging evidence also indicates that systemic inflammation may be a contributor to the pathology progression of these neurodegenerative diseases.
Methods: To investigate the role of systemic inflammation in the progression of neuronal TDP-43 pathology, AAV9 particles driven by the UCHL1 promoter were delivered to the frontal cortex of wild-type aged mice via intracranial injections to overexpress TDP-43 or green fluorescent protein (GFP) in corticospinal motor neurons. Animals were then subjected to a low-dose (500 μg/kg) intraperitoneal E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration challenge for 2 weeks to mimic a chronically altered low-grade systemic inflammatory state. Mice were then subjected to neurobehavioral studies, followed by biochemical and immunohistochemical analyses of the brain tissue.
Results: In the present study, we report that elevated neuronal TDP-43 levels induced microglial and astrocytic activation in the cortex of injected mice followed by increased RANTES signaling. Moreover, overexpression of TDP-43 exerted abundant mouse immunoglobulin G (IgG), CD3, and CD4+ T cell infiltration as well as endothelial and pericyte activation suggesting increased blood-brain barrier permeability. The BBB permeability in TDP-43 overexpressing brains yielded the frontal cortex vulnerable to the systemic inflammatory response following LPS treatment, leading to marked neutrophil infiltration, neuronal loss, reduced synaptosome-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) levels, and behavioral impairments in the radial arm water maze (RAWM) task.
Conclusions: These results reveal a novel role for TDP-43 in BBB permeability and leukocyte recruitment, indicating complex intermolecular interactions between an altered systemic inflammatory state and pathologically prone TDP-43 protein to promote disease progression.
Keywords: Astrocytosis; Blood-brain barrier; Microglial activation; Neurovascular unit; Synaptic dysfunction; Systemic inflammation; TDP-43.