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J Neuroimmunol. 2011 Sep 15;238(1-2):19-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2011.06.010. Epub 2011 Jul 30.

Cytokines regulate neuronal gene expression: differential effects of Th1, Th2 and monocyte/macrophage cytokines.

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Department of Neurology, Wayne State University, MI 48201, USA.


Inflammatory mediators, including cytokines, contribute to neuronal and axonal dysfunction and cell death. To examine the roles of cytokines in pathogenesis and regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS), we analyzed effects of cytokines on early gene regulation (6h) in neuronal cultures, employing gene arrays. Our hypothesis is that neuronal gene expression is differentially regulated in vitro by cytokine mixtures typical of Th1 and Th2 T cells and monocytes/macrophages (M/M). Th1 and M/M cytokines showed similar patterns for regulation of numerous pathways including cytokine-receptor interactions, MAP kinase, toll like receptors, apoptosis, PPAR signaling, cell adhesion molecules (CAMS), antigen processing, adipocytokine, and JAK-STAT signaling. M/M cytokines uniquely regulated genes in T cell, B cell and ECM receptor signaling pathways. Th2 cytokines had few effects on pathways regulated by Th1 and MM cytokines, but uniquely regulated genes related to neuroactive ligand-receptors and calcium. Th1 and MM cytokines markedly upregulated a wide array of cytokine-related genes. Notably, M/M cytokines uniquely upregulated G-CSF, GM-CSF, CXCL5 and lymphotactin (Xcl1). Th2 cytokines did not upregulate cytokine-related genes, with the exception of CCL11 and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 1, a VEGF receptor. In neuroactive ligand-receptor pathways, Th1 and M/M cytokines upregulated gene expression for tryptophan hydroxylase. Th1 cytokines upregulated gene expression for GABA A receptor, delta, while Th2 cytokines downregulated GABA A receptor, gamma 3. Significant changes occurred in several genes in the wnt and Notch signaling pathways, which are highly conserved and play critical roles in neuronal and glial differentiation. In the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, proinflammatory cytokine mixtures induced upregulation of several genes, notably ubiquitin D (Ubd/FAT10), ubiquitin ligase and several proteasomal proteins. In agreement with microarray results, QRT-PCR showed marked upregulation of gene expression for Ubd with Th1 and M/M, for transglutaminase 2 with M/M, and for arginase 1 with Th2 cytokines. Expression of Ubd in the nervous system has not been previously reported. Both message and protein for Ubd are expressed in neurons, and upregulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. Transglutaminase 2 has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, and proposed as a therapeutic target. Upregulation of arginase by Th2 cytokines could be potentially neuroprotective by decreasing NO generation and enhancing neurite outgrowth. Our analysis of changes in neuronal gene expression at the time of initial exposure to an abnormal cytokine milieu provides the opportunity to identify early changes that could be reversed to prevent later irreversible neuronal damage and death in multiple sclerosis and other CNS diseases.

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