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Neuroimmunomodulation. 2000;7(3):153-9.

Cytokine effects on glutamate uptake by human astrocytes.

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Institute for Brain and Immune Disorders, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404, USA.


Glutamate uptake by astrocytes has been postulated to play a neuroprotective role during brain inflammation. Using primary human fetal astrocyte cultures, we investigated the influence of selected cytokines on glutamate uptake activity. Interleukin (IL)-1beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha dose-dependently inhibited astrocyte glutamate uptake, whereas interferon (IFN)-gamma alone stimulated this activity. The nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine, blocked IL-1beta-mediated inhibition of glutamate uptake, suggesting involvement of nitric oxide in the effect of IL-1beta. IL-1 receptor antagonist protein totally reversed the inhibitory effect of cytokines, suggesting a critical role of IL-1beta. The anti-inflammatory cytokine IFN-beta blocked cytokine (IL-1beta plus IFN-gamma)-induced inhibition of glutamate uptake with a corresponding reduction in nitric oxide generation. Taken together, these findings suggest that proinflammatory cytokines inhibit astrocyte glutamate uptake by a mechanism involving nitric oxide, and that IFN-beta may exert a therapeutically beneficial effect by blocking cytokine-induced nitric oxide production in inflammatory diseases of the brain.

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