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J Neurosci. 2005 Feb 16;25(7):1788-96.

Toll-like receptor 4 on nonhematopoietic cells sustains CNS inflammation during endotoxemia, independent of systemic cytokines.

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  • 1Section on Functional Neuroanatomy, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Inflammatory agonists such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induce robust systemic as well as CNS responses after peripheral administration. Responses in the innate immune system require triggering of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), but the origin of CNS sequelas has been controversial. We demonstrate expression of TLR4 transcripts in mouse brain in the meninges, ventricular ependyma, circumventricular organs, along the vasculature, and in parenchymal microglia. The contribution of TLR4 expressed in CNS resident versus hematopoietic cells to the development of CNS inflammation was examined using chimeric mice. Reciprocal bone marrow chimeras between wild-type and TLR4 mutant mice show that TLR4 on CNS resident cells is critically required for sustained inflammation in the brain after systemic LPS administration. Hematopoietic TLR4 alone supported the systemic release of acute phase cytokines, but transcription of proinflammatory genes in the CNS was reduced in duration. In contrast, TLR4 function in radiation-resistant cells was sufficient for inflammatory progression in the brains of chimeric mice, despite the striking absence of cytokine elevations in serum. Surprisingly, a temporal rise in serum corticosterone was also dependent on TLR4 signaling in nonhematopoietic cells. Our findings demonstrate a requirement for TLR4 function in CNS-resident cells, independent of systemic cytokine effects, for sustained CNS-specific inflammation and corticosterone rise during endotoxemia.

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