Bipolar disorder (BD) is characterized by cyclical mood shifts. Studies indicate that BD patients have a peripheral pro-inflammatory state and alterations in glial populations in the brain. We utilized an in vitro model to study inflammation-related phenotypes of astrocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generated from BD patients and healthy controls. BD astrocytes showed changes in transcriptome and induced a reduction in neuronal activity when co-cultured with neurons. IL-1β-stimulated BD astrocytes displayed a unique inflammatory gene expression signature and increased secretion of IL-6. Conditioned medium from stimulated BD astrocytes reduced neuronal activity, and this effect was partially blocked by IL-6 inactivating antibody. Our results suggest that BD astrocytes are functionally less supportive of neuronal excitability and this effect is partially mediated by IL-6. We confirmed higher IL-6 in blood in a distinct cohort of BD patients, highlighting the potential role of astrocyte-mediated inflammatory signaling in BD neuropathology.
Keywords: IL-6; astrocytes; cytokine; glia; iPSC; inflammation; mood disorders; neuronal activity; psychiatry.
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