Interleukin-1 causes CNS inflammatory cytokine expression via endothelia-microglia bi-cellular signaling

Ling Zhu, Xiaoyu Liu, Daniel P. Nemeth, Damon J. DiSabato, Kristina G. Witcher, Daniel B. Mckim, Braedan Oliver, Xi Le, Gowthami Gorantla, Olimpia Berdysz, Jiaoni Li, Aishwarya D. Ramani, Zhibiao Chen, Dongcheng Wu, Jonathan P. Godbout, Ning Quan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As a major producer of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1), peripheral macrophages can augment IL-1 expression via type 1 IL-1 receptor (IL-1R1) mediated autocrine self-amplification. In the CNS, microglial cells are the major producers of inflammatory cytokines, but express negligible levels of IL-1R1. In the present study, we showed CNS IL-1 induced microglial proinflammatory cytokine expression was mediated by endothelial, not microglial, IL-1R1. This paracrine mechanism was further dissected in vitro. IL-1 was unable to stimulate inflammatory cytokine expression directly from the microglial cell line BV-2, but it stimulated the brain endothelial cell line bEnd.3 to produce a factor(s) in the culture supernatant, which was capable of inducing inflammatory cytokine expression in BV-2. We termed this factor IL-1-induced microglial activation factors (IMAF). BV-2 cytokine expression was inducible by extracellular ATP, but IL-1 did not stimulate the release of ATP from bEnd.3 cells. Filtration of IMAF by size-exclusion membranes showed IMAF activity resided in molecules larger than 50 kd and incubation of IMAF at 95 °C for 5 min did not alter its activity. Microglial inhibitor minocycline was unable to block IMAF activity, even though it blocked LPS induced cytokine expression in BV-2 cells. Adding NF-κB inhibitor to the bEnd.3 cells abolished IL-1 induced cytokine expression in this bi-cellular system, but adding NF-κB inhibitor after IMAF is already produced failed to abrogate IMAF induced cytokine expression in BV-2 cells. RNA sequencing of IL-1 stimulated endothelial cells revealed increased expression of genes involved in the production and processing of hyaluronic acid (HA), suggesting HA as a candidate of IMAF. Inhibition of hyaluronidase by ascorbyl palmitate (AP) abolished IMAF-induced cytokine expression in BV-2 cells. AP administration in vivo also inhibited ICV IL-1-induced IL-1 expression in the hippocampus and hypothalamus. In vitro, either TLR2 or TLR4 inhibitors blocked IMAF induced BV-2 cytokine expression. In vivo, however, IL-1 induced cytokine expression persisted in either TLR2 or TLR4 knockouts. These results demonstrate IL-1 induced inflammatory cytokine expression in the CNS requires a bi-cellular system and HA could be a candidate for IMAF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Minocycline
  • TLR4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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