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J Neuroinflammation. 2014 Oct 10;11:175. doi: 10.1186/s12974-014-0175-6.

The p38alpha mitogen-activated protein kinase limits the CNS proinflammatory cytokine response to systemic lipopolysaccharide, potentially through an IL-10 dependent mechanism.

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Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky, 800 S, Limestone Street, Lexington 40536, KY, USA.



The p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is a well-characterized intracellular kinase involved in the overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines from glia. As such, p38α appears to be a promising therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases associated with neuroinflammation. However, the in vivo role of p38α in cytokine production in the CNS is poorly defined, and prior work suggests that p38α may be affecting a yet to be identified negative feedback mechanism that limits the acute, injury-induced proinflammatory cytokine surge in the CNS.


To attempt to define this negative feedback mechanism, we used two in vitro and two in vivo models of neuroinflammation in a mouse where p38α is deficient in cells of the myeloid lineage.


We found that p38α in myeloid cells has an important role in limiting amplitude of the acute proinflammatory cytokine response to a systemic inflammatory challenge. Moreover, we identified IL-10 as a potential negative feedback mechanism regulated by p38α.


Our data suggest that p38α regulates a proper balance between the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine responses to systemic inflammation, and that if circulating IL-10 levels are not elevated to counter-balance the increased systemic proinflammatory responses, the spread of the inflammatory response from the periphery to the CNS is exaggerated.

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