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J Neurosci Res. 1997 May 15;48(4):287-98.

Induction of cytokine transcripts in the central nervous system and pituitary following peripheral administration of endotoxin to mice.

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Institute of Physiology, Medical Faculty, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany.


The regional distribution and inducibility of cytokines in the normal brain is still a matter of controversy. As an attempt to clarify this issue, we studied the constitutive and induced expression of interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and interferon (IFN)-gamma mRNAs in the brain, pituitary, and spleen of mice using qualitative and semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. The contribution of nonbrain cells to the cytokine transcripts detected was considered. With the exception of IFN-gamma mRNA, transcripts for the other cytokines were found to be constitutively present in the brain. Following i.p. injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at a dose below those described to disrupt the blood-brain barrier (BBB), cytokine mRNA expression was increased in the spleen, the pituitary, and the brain. In the brain, the onset of transcription varied from 45 min (IL-1beta, TNF-alpha) to 4 hr (IFN-gamma), and the peak of mRNA accumulation was observed at different times depending on the cytokine and the brain region studied. IL-1 and IL-6 were highly expressed in the hypothalamus and hippocampus, while TNF-alpha expression was more marked in the thalamus-striatum. The cortex was the region in which cytokines were less inducible. The inducible expression of cytokine mRNAs in the brain was paralleled by stimulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. These results show the capacity of brain cells to synthesize different cytokine mRNAs in vivo and define the kinetics of their expression in several brain areas and in the periphery in parallel to the activation of a neuroendocrine pathway by endotoxin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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