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J Immunol. 2010 Jun 15;184(12):7207-18. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0903487. Epub 2010 May 7.

The prostaglandin E2 E-prostanoid 4 receptor exerts anti-inflammatory effects in brain innate immunity.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Peripheral inflammation leads to immune responses in brain characterized by microglial activation, elaboration of proinflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species, and secondary neuronal injury. The inducible cyclooxygenase (COX), COX-2, mediates a significant component of this response in brain via downstream proinflammatory PG signaling. In this study, we investigated the function of the PGE2 E-prostanoid (EP) 4 receptor in the CNS innate immune response to the bacterial endotoxin LPS. We report that PGE2 EP4 signaling mediates an anti-inflammatory effect in brain by blocking LPS-induced proinflammatory gene expression in mice. This was associated in cultured murine microglial cells with decreased Akt and I-kappaB kinase phosphorylation and decreased nuclear translocation of p65 and p50 NF-kappaB subunits. In vivo, conditional deletion of EP4 in macrophages and microglia increased lipid peroxidation and proinflammatory gene expression in brain and in isolated adult microglia following peripheral LPS administration. Conversely, EP4 selective agonist decreased LPS-induced proinflammatory gene expression in hippocampus and in isolated adult microglia. In plasma, EP4 agonist significantly reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, indicating that peripheral EP4 activation protects the brain from systemic inflammation. The innate immune response is an important component of disease progression in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, recent studies demonstrated adverse vascular effects with chronic administration of COX-2 inhibitors, indicating that specific PG signaling pathways may be protective in vascular function. This study supports an analogous and beneficial effect of PGE2 EP4 receptor signaling in suppressing brain inflammation.

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