Cognitive impairment (CI) is a disabling concomitant of multiple sclerosis (MS) with a complex and controversial pathogenesis. The cytokine interleukin-17A (IL-17A) is involved in the immune pathogenesis of MS, but its possible effects on synaptic function and cognition are still largely unexplored. In this study, we show that the IL-17A receptor (IL-17RA) is highly expressed by hippocampal neurons in the CA1 area and that exposure to IL-17A dose-dependently disrupts hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) through the activation of its receptor and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). During experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), IL-17A overexpression is paralleled by hippocampal LTP dysfunction. An in vivo behavioral analysis shows that visuo-spatial learning abilities are preserved when EAE is induced in mice lacking IL-17A. Overall, this study suggests a key role for the IL-17 axis in the neuro-immune cross-talk occurring in the hippocampal CA1 area and its potential involvement in synaptic dysfunction and MS-related CI.
Keywords: cognitive impairment; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; hippocampus; inflammation; interleukin-17; multiple sclerosis; neuroimmunology; synaptic plasticity.
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