Mitochondria-Targeted Human Catalase in the Mouse Longevity MCAT Model Mitigates Head-Tilt Bedrest-Induced Neuro-Inflammation in the Hippocampus

Life (Basel). 2022 Nov 9;12(11):1838. doi: 10.3390/life12111838.


Microgravity (modeled by head-tilt bedrest and hind-limb unloading), experienced during prolonged spaceflight, results in neurological consequences, central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, and potentially impairment during the performance of critical tasks. Similar pathologies are observed in bedrest, sedentary lifestyle, and muscle disuse on Earth. In our previous study, we saw that head-tilt bedrest together with social isolation upregulated the milieu of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus and plasma. These changes were mitigated in a MCAT mouse model overexpressing human catalase in the mitochondria, pointing out the importance of ROS signaling in this stress response. Here, we used a head-tilt model in socially housed mice to tease out the effects of head-tilt bedrest without isolation. In order to find the underlying molecular mechanisms that provoked the cytokine response, we measured CD68, an indicator of microglial activation in the hippocampus, as well as changes in normal in-cage behavior. We hypothesized that hindlimb unloading (HU) will elicit microglial hippocampal activations, which will be mitigated in the MCAT ROS-quenching mice model. Indeed, we saw an elevation of the activated microglia CD68 marker following HU in the hippocampus, and this pathology was mitigated in MCAT mice. Additionally, we identified cytokines in the hippocampus, which had significant positive correlations with CD68 and negative correlations with exploratory behaviors, indicating a link between neuroinflammation and behavioral consequences. Unveiling a correlation between molecular and behavioral changes could reveal a biomarker indicative of these responses and could also result in a potential target for the treatment and prevention of cognitive changes following long space missions and/or muscle disuse on Earth.

Keywords: CNS; MCAT; ROS; hind limb unloading; microglia; microgravity.

Grant support

This work was partially supported by NASA post-doctoral program NPP. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This work was partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH 1R01CA258673) (ARA). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.