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Neurobiol Dis. 2005 Jun-Jul;19(1-2):243-54.

Protection of rat primary hippocampal cultures from A beta cytotoxicity by pro-inflammatory molecules is mediated by astrocytes.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Marcoleta 391, Santiago, Chile.


The brain of Alzheimer's disease patients shows abundant dystrophic neurites in close proximity to fibrillar beta-amyloid (A beta) plaques, and activated glial cells. We evaluated the influence of pro-inflammatory molecules (LPS + IFN-gamma) on A beta(1-42) neurotoxicity. 2 microM A beta(1-42) induced apoptosis of hippocampal cells and LPS + IFN-gamma reduced the apoptosis induced by A beta. However, LPS + IFN-gamma prevented apoptosis only in hippocampal cultures containing astrocytes. Also, LPS + IFN-gamma induced the secretion of TGF beta, a cytokine having neuroprotective effects, only in hippocampal cultures that contained astrocytes. Astrocytes had a regulatory effect over microglial and neuronal responses to A beta. The results suggest that LPS + IFN-gamma, traditionally considered as pro-apoptotic, reduced apoptosis induced by A beta through the activation of neuroprotective mechanisms mediated by astrocytes. We propose that astrocytes are pivotal in the modulation of inflammation of the CNS. The impairment of the regulatory functions performed by activated astrocytes could represent an important pathogenic mechanism for neurodegenerative diseases.

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