Intravenous lipopolysaccharide induces cyclooxygenase 2-like immunoreactivity in rat brain perivascular microglia and meningeal macrophages

J Comp Neurol. 1997 May 5;381(2):119-29. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19970505)381:2<119::aid-cne1>;2-6.


Production of prostaglandins is a critical step in transducing immune stimuli into central nervous system (CNS) responses, but the cellular source of prostaglandins responsible for CNS signalling is unknown. Cyclooxygenase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of prostaglandins and exists in two isoforms. Regulation of the inducible isoform, cyclooxygenase 2, is thought to play a key role in the brain's response to acute inflammatory stimuli. In this paper, we report that intravenous lipopolysaccharide (LPS or endotoxin) induces cyclooxygenase 2-like immunoreactivity in cells closely associated with brain blood vessels and in cells in the meninges. Neuronal staining was not noticeably altered or induced in any brain region by endotoxin challenge. Furthermore, many of the cells also were stained with a perivascular microglial/macrophage-specific antibody, indicating that intravenous LPS induces cyclooxygenase in perivascular microglia along blood vessels and in meningeal macrophages at the edge of the brain. These findings suggest that perivascular microglia and meningeal macrophages throughout the brain may be the cellular source of prostaglandins following systemic immune challenge. We hypothesize that distinct components of the CNS response to immune system activation may be mediated by prostaglandins produced at specific intracranial sites such as the preoptic area (altered sleep and thermoregulation), medulla (adrenal corticosteroid response), and cerebral cortex (headache and encephalopathy).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Meningeal Arteries / drug effects*
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / drug effects*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases