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Neuroscience. 2013 Feb 12;231:49-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.11.032. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Exacerbated inflammatory responses related to activated microglia after traumatic brain injury in progranulin-deficient mice.

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Department of Veterinary Physiology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


Progranulin (PGRN), a multifunctional growth factor, appears to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases accompanied by neuroinflammation. In this study, we investigated the role of PGRN in neuroinflammation, especially in the activation of microglia, by means of experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the cerebral cortex of mice. The expression of GRN mRNA was increased in association with neuroinflammation after TBI. Double-immunohistochemical study showed that PGRN-immunoreactive (-IR) cells were mainly overlapped with CD68-IR cells, suggesting that the main source of PGRN was CD68-positive activated microglia. To investigate the role of PGRN in inflammatory responses related to activated microglia, we compared the immunoreactivity and expression of ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba1), CD68, and CD11b as markers for activated microglia between wild-type (WT) and GRN-deficient (KO) mice. The number of Iba1- and CD11b-IR cells and gene expression of Iba1 and CD11b were not significantly different between WT and KO mice, while the number of CD68-IR cells and CD68 expression in KO mice were significantly greater than those in WT mice. Double-immunohistochemical study showed that CD68-IR microglia were also IR for TGFβ1, and TGFβ1 expression and Smad3 phosphorylation in KO mice were elevated compared to WT mice. Moreover, double-immunostaining between phospho-Smad3 and glial fibrillary acidic protein suggested increased TGFβ1-Smad3 signal mainly by astrocytes. The levels of protein carbonyl groups, which reflect protein oxidation, and laminin immunoreactivity, which is associated with angiogenesis, were also significantly increased in KO mice compared to WT mice. These results suggest that PGRN is produced in CD68-positive microglia and suppresses excessive inflammatory responses related to activated microglia after TBI in mice.

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