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Neuroscience. 2002;112(3):487-97.

Functional expression of CXCR3 in cultured mouse and human astrocytes and microglia.

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Department of Medical Physiology, University of Groningen, A. Deusinglaan 1, bldg. 3215, 9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands.


It has been established recently that inflammation of the CNS is accompanied by an expression of chemokines within the CNS. Several lines of evidence suggest that chemokines within the CNS initiate and orchestrate the infiltration of the inflamed brain by blood leukocytes. It is also known that endogenous cells of the CNS express functional chemokine receptors, raising the possibility that chemokines may be involved in intercellular signalling between brain cells during brain inflammation. It was shown recently that two chemokine ligands for CXCR3 are induced rapidly in damaged neurons. Little is known yet on the function of neuronal chemokine expression. In order to investigate whether neuronal chemokines contribute to endogenous signalling within the CNS we investigated possible expression of CXCR3 in glial cells. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction experiments and in situ hybridization analysis showed that cultured astrocytes and microglia from both mouse and human sources express CXCR3 mRNA. Protein expression of CXCR3 in both cell types was detected by immunocytochemistry. Moreover, stimulation of cultured glial cells with chemokine ligands for CXCR3 induced intracellular calcium transients and chemotaxis, indicating the functional expression of CXCR3. These results indicate that glial cells in culture functionally express the chemokine receptor CXCR3. Since it has been shown that brain damage rapidly induces expression of neuronal chemokines that activate CXCR3, we suggest that glial CXCR3 might contribute to an intercellular signalling system in the CNS related to pathological conditions.

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