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Exp Neurol. 1998 Oct;153(2):184-94.

Localization of metallothionein-I and -III expression in the CNS of transgenic mice with astrocyte-targeted expression of interleukin 6.

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Unidad de Fisiología Animal, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, 08193, Spain.


The effect of interleukin-6 (IL-6) on metallothionein-I (MT-I) and MT-III expression in the brain has been studied in transgenic mice expressing IL-6 under the regulatory control of the glial fibrillary acidic protein gene promoter (GFAP-IL6 mice), which develop chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that GFAP-IL6 (G16-low expressor line, and G36-high expressor line) mice had strongly increased MT-I mRNA levels in the cerebellum (Purkinje and granular layers of the cerebellar cortex and basal nuclei) and, to a lesser degree, in thalamus (only G36 line) and hypothalamus, whereas no significant alterations were observed in other brain areas studied. Microautoradiography and immunocytochemistry studies suggest that the MT-I expression is predominantly localized to astrocytes throughout the cerebrum and especially in Bergman glia in the cerebellum. However, a significant expression was also observed in microglia of the GFAP-IL6 mice. MT-III expression was significantly increased in the Purkinje cell layer and basal nuclei of the cerebellum, which was confirmed by Northern blot analysis of poly(A)+ mRNA and by ELISA of the MT-III protein. In contrast, in the G36 but not G16 mice, transgene expression of IL-6 was associated with significantly decreased MT-III RNA levels in the dentate gyrus and CA3 pyramidal neuron layer of the hippocampus and, in both G36 and G16 mice, in the occipital but not frontal cortex and in ependymal cells. Thus, both the widely expressed MT-I isoform and the CNS specific MT-III isoform are significantly affected in a MT isoform- and CNS area-specific manner in the GFAP-IL6 mice, a chronic model of brain damage.

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