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Eur J Immunol. 2014 Dec;44(12):3708-16. doi: 10.1002/eji.201444553. Epub 2014 Nov 10.

Neuroimmunological communication via CGRP promotes the development of a regulatory phenotype in TLR4-stimulated macrophages.

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Department of Surgery, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.


Environmental signals shape the phenotype and function of activated macrophages. Here, we show that the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is released from sensory nerves, modulates the phenotype of TLR4-activated murine macrophages by enhancing expression of the regulatory macrophage markers IL-10, sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1), and LIGHT (lymphotoxin-like, exhibits inducible expression and competes with HSV glycoprotein D for herpesvirus entry mediator, a receptor expressed by T lymphocytes). In contrast, CGRP inhibits production of cytokines characteristic of inflammatory macrophages and does not affect expression of wound-healing macrophage markers upon TLR4 engagement. In IL-4-stimulated macrophages, CGRP increased LIGHT expression, but failed to induce IL-10 and SPHK1. The stimulatory effect of CGRP on IL-10 production required activation of protein kinase A and was linked to prolonged phosphorylation of CREB and sustained nuclear accumulation of CRTC2 and CRTC3 (where CRTC is CREB-regulated transcriptional cofactor). CGRP enhanced expression of regulatory macrophage markers during the early, but not late, phase of LPS-stimulation and this effect was independent of autocrine type-I IFN activity. In contrast, autocrine type-I IFN activity and treatment of macrophages with IFN-β promoted late-phase IL-10 production, but had only minor influence on LIGHT and SPHK1 expression. Together, the results identify neuroimmunological communication through CGRP as a novel costimulatory pathway promoting the development of a regulatory phenotype of TLR4-stimulated macrophages. CGRP appears to act through a mechanism that involves sustained activation of CREB-dependent gene transcription.


CREB; Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP); IL-10; Regulatory macrophages

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