Sex differences in microglial CX3CR1 signalling determine obesity susceptibility in mice.
ABSTRACT: Female mice are less susceptible to the negative metabolic consequences of high-fat diet feeding than male mice, for reasons that are incompletely understood. Here we identify sex-specific differences in hypothalamic microglial activation via the CX3CL1-CX3CR1 pathway that mediate the resistance of female mice to diet-induced obesity. Female mice fed a high-fat diet maintain CX3CL1-CX3CR1 levels while male mice show reductions in both ligand and receptor expression. Female Cx3cr1 knockout mice develop 'male-like' hypothalamic microglial accumulation and activation, accompanied by a marked increase in their susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. Conversely, increasing brain CX3CL1 levels in male mice through central pharmacological administration or virally mediated hypothalamic overexpression converts them to a 'female-like' metabolic phenotype with reduced microglial activation and body-weight gain. These data implicate sex differences in microglial activation in the modulation of energy homeostasis and identify CX3CR1 signalling as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Neuron-microglia communication plays a crucial role in the motor neurons (MNs) death in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Neurons can express chemokine (C-X3-C motif) ligand 1 (CX3CL1), which mediates microglial activation via interacting with its sole receptor CX3CR1 in microglia. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the dynamic changes of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis during microglial activation and MNs loss in SOD1<sup>G93A</sup> mouse model of ALS.<h4>Methods</h4>qPCR, western blot and immunofluorescent staining were used to examine the mRNA and protein levels and localization of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 in the anterior horn region of spinal cord in both SOD1<sup>G93A</sup> mice and their age-matched wild type (WT) littermates at 40, 60, 90 and 120?days of age. The M1/M2 microglial activation in the spinal cord tissues of SOD1<sup>G93A</sup> mice and WT mice were evaluated by immunofluorescent staining of M1/M2 markers and further confirmed by qPCR analysis of M1/M2-related cytokines.<h4>Results</h4>The immunofluorescent staining revealed that CX3CL1 was predominately expressed in MNs, while CX3CR1 was highly expressed in microglia in the anterior horn region of spinal cord. Compared with age-matched WT mice, CX3CL1 mRNA level was elevated at 40?days but decreased at 90 and 120?days in the anterior horn region of spinal cords in ALS mice. Consistently, CX3CR1 mRNA level was increased at 90 and 120?days. Western blot assay further confirmed the dynamic changes of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis in ALS mice. Additionally, the levels of M1/M2 markers of microglia and their related cytokines in the anterior horn region of spinal cord in ALS mice were increased at 90 and 120?days. Moreover, while M1-related cytokines in ALS mice were persistently increased at 120?days, the upregulated M2-related cytokines started to decline at 120?days, suggesting an altered microglial activation.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our data revealed the dynamic changes of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis and an imbalanced M1/M2 microglial activation during ALS pathological progression. These findings may help identify potential molecular targets for ALS therapy.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Fractalkine (CX3CL1) and its receptor (CX3CR1) play an important role in regulating microglial function. We have previously shown that Cx3cr1 deficiency exacerbated tau pathology and led to cognitive impairment. However, it is still unclear if the chemokine domain of the ligand CX3CL1 is essential in regulating neuronal tau pathology. METHODS:We used transgenic mice lacking endogenous Cx3cl1 (Cx3cl1-/-) and expressing only obligatory soluble form (with only chemokine domain) and lacking the mucin stalk of CX3CL1 (referred to as Cx3cl1105? mice) to assess tau pathology and behavioral function in both lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and genetic (hTau) mouse models of tauopathy. RESULTS:First, increased basal tau levels accompanied microglial activation in Cx3cl1105? mice compared to control groups. Second, increased CD45+ and F4/80+ neuroinflammation and tau phosphorylation were observed in LPS, hTau/Cx3cl1-/-, and hTau/Cx3cl1105? mouse models of tau pathology, which correlated with impaired spatial learning. Finally, microglial cell surface expression of CX3CR1 was reduced in Cx3cl1105? mice, suggesting enhanced fractalkine receptor internalization (mimicking Cx3cr1 deletion), which likely contributes to the elevated tau pathology. CONCLUSIONS:Collectively, our data suggest that overexpression of only chemokine domain of CX3CL1 does not protect against tau pathology.
Project description:Susceptibility to stress-linked psychological disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, differs between men and women. Dysfunction of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been implicated in many of these disorders. Chronic stress affects mPFC in a sex-dependent manner, differentially remodeling dendritic morphology and disrupting prefrontally mediated behaviors in males and females. Chronic restraint stress induces microglial activation, reflected in altered microglial morphology and immune factor expression, in mPFC in male rats. Unstressed females exhibit increased microglial ramification in several brain regions compared to males, suggesting both heightened basal activation and a potential for sex-dependent effects of stress on microglial activation. Therefore, we assessed microglial density and ramification in the prelimbic region of mPFC, and immune-associated genes in dorsal mPFC in male and female rats following acute or chronic restraint stress. Control rats were left unstressed. On the final day of restraint, brains were collected for either qPCR or visualization of microglia using Iba-1 immunohistochemistry. Microglia in mPFC were classified as ramified, primed, reactive, or amoeboid, and counted stereologically. Expression of microglia-associated genes (MHCII, CD40, IL6, CX3CL1, and CX3CR1) was also assessed using qPCR. Unstressed females showed a greater proportion of primed to ramified microglia relative to males, alongside heightened CX3CL1-CX3CR1 expression. Acute and chronic restraint stress reduced the proportion of primed to ramified microglia and microglial CD40 expression in females, but did not significantly alter microglial activation in males. This sex difference in microglial activation could contribute to the differential effects of stress on mPFC structure and function in males versus females.
Project description:Microglia play a crucial role in immune responses, including inflammation. Diet-induced obesity (DIO) triggers microglia activation and hypothalamic inflammation as early as 3 days after high-fat diet (HFD) exposure, before changes in body weight occur. The intracellular mechanism(s) responsible for HFD-induced microglia activation is ill defined. Here, we show that in vivo, HFD induced a rapid and transient increase in uncoupling protein 2 (Ucp2) mRNA expression together with changes in mitochondrial dynamics. Selective microglial deletion of Ucp2 prevented changes in mitochondrial dynamics and function, microglia activation, and hypothalamic inflammation. In association with these, male and female mice were protected from HFD-induced obesity, showing decreased feeding and increased energy expenditure that were associated with changes in the synaptic input organization and activation of the anorexigenic hypothalamic POMC neurons and astrogliosis. Together, our data point to a fuel-availability-driven mitochondrial mechanism as a major player of microglia activation in the central regulation of DIO.
Project description:Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a disease characterized by the progressive degeneration of mutation-bearing photoreceptors, is a significant cause of incurable blindness in the young worldwide. Recent studies have found that activated retinal microglia contribute to photoreceptor demise via phagocytosis and proinflammatory factor production, however mechanisms regulating these contributions are not well-defined. In this study, we investigate the role of CX3CR1, a microglia-specific receptor, in regulating microglia-mediated degeneration using the well-established rd10 mouse model of RP. We found that in CX3CR1-deficient (CX3CR1(GFP/GFP) ) rd10 mice microglial infiltration into the photoreceptor layer was significantly augmented and associated with accelerated photoreceptor apoptosis and atrophy compared with CX3CR1-sufficient (CX3CR1(GFP/+) ) rd10 littermates. CX3CR1-deficient microglia demonstrated increased phagocytosis as evidenced by (1) having increased numbers of phagosomes in vivo, (2) an increased rate of phagocytosis of fluorescent beads and photoreceptor cellular debris in vitro, and (3) increased photoreceptor phagocytosis dynamics on live cell imaging in retinal explants, indicating that CX3CR1 signaling in microglia regulates the phagocytic clearance of at-risk photoreceptors. We also found that CX3CR1 deficiency in retinal microglia was associated with increased expression of inflammatory cytokines and microglial activation markers. Significantly, increasing CX3CL1-CX3CR1 signaling in the rd10 retina via exogenous intravitreal delivery of recombinant CX3CL1 was effective in (1) decreasing microglial infiltration, phagocytosis and activation, and (2) improving structural and functional features of photoreceptor degeneration. These results indicate that CX3CL1-CX3CR1 signaling is a molecular mechanism capable of modulating microglial-mediated degeneration and represents a potential molecular target in therapeutic approaches to RP. GLIA 2016;64:1479-1491.
Project description:TAU protein aggregation is the main characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases known as tauopathies. Low-grade chronic inflammation is also another hallmark that indicates crosstalk between damaged neurons and glial cells. Previously, we have demonstrated that neurons overexpressing TAUP301L release CX3CL1, which activates the transcription factor NRF2 signalling to limit over-activation in microglial cells in vitro and in vivo. However, the connection between CX3CL1/CX3CR1 and NRF2 system and its functional implications in microglia are poorly described. We evaluated CX3CR1/NRF2 axis in the context of tauopathies and its implication in neuroinflammation. Regarding the molecular mechanisms that connect CX3CL1/CX3CR1 and NRF2 systems, we observed that in primary microglia from Cx3cr1-/- mice the mRNA levels of Nrf2 and its related genes were significantly decreased, establishing a direct linking between both systems. To determine functional relevance of CX3CR1, migration and phagocytosis assays were evaluated. CX3CR1-deficient microglia showed impaired cell migration and deficiency of phagocytosis, as previously described for NRF2-deficient microglia, reinforcing the idea of the relevance of the CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis in these events. The importance of these findings was evident in a tauopathy mouse model where the effects of sulforaphane (SFN), an NRF2 inducer, were examined on neuroinflammation in Cx3cr1+/+ and Cx3cr1-/- mice. Interestingly, the treatment with SFN was able to modulate astrogliosis but failed to reduce microgliosis in Cx3cr1-/- mice. These findings suggest an essential role of the CX3CR1/NRF2 axis in microglial function and in tauopathies. Therefore, polymorphisms with loss of function in CX3CR1 or NRF2 have to be taken into account for the development of therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Midlife obesity is a risk factor for cognitive decline and is associated with the earlier onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Diets high in saturated fat potentiate the onset of obesity, microglial activation, and neuroinflammation. Signaling deficiencies in the hypothalamic peptide orexin and/or orexin fiber loss are linked to neurodegeneration, cognitive impairment, and neuroinflammation. Prior studies show that orexin is neuroprotective, suppresses neuroinflammation, and that treatment with orexin improves cognitive processes in orexin/ataxin-3 (O/A3) mice, a transgenic mouse model of orexin neurodegeneration. Our overall hypothesis is that loss of orexin contributes to high fat diet (HFD)-induced hippocampal neuroinflammation and cognitive decline. To examine this, we tested male O/A3 mice (7-8 mo. of age) in a two-way active avoidance (TWAA) hippocampus-dependent memory task. We tested whether (1) orexin loss impaired cognitive function; (2) HFD worsened cognitive impairment; and (3) HFD increased microglial activation and neuroinflammation. O/A3 mice showed significant impairments in TWAA task learning vs. wild type (WT) mice (increased escapes p?<?0.05, reduced avoidances p?<?0.0001). Mice were then placed on HFD (45% total fat, 31.4% saturated fat) or remained on normal chow (NC; 4% total fat and 1% saturated fat), and TWAA was retested at 2 and 4?weeks. Learning impairment was evident at both 2 and 4?weeks in O/A3 mice fed HFD for following diet exposure vs. WT mice on normal chow or HFD (increased escapes, reduced avoidances p?<?0.05). Additionally, O/A3 mice had increased gene expression of the microglial activation marker Iba-1 (measured via qRT-PCR, p?<?0.001). Further characterization of the microglial immune response genes in hippocampal tissue revealed a significant increase in CX3 chemokine receptor 1 (CX3CR1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?) and the mitochondria-associated enzyme immune responsive gene-1 (Irg1). Collectively, our results indicate that orexin loss impairs memory, and that HFD accelerates hippocampus-dependent learning deficits and the onset of neuroinflammation.
Project description:The fractalkine (CX3CL1-CX3CR1) chemokine system is associated with obesity-related inflammation and type 2 diabetes, but data on effects of Cx3cr1 deficiency on metabolic pathways is contradictory. We examined male C57BL/6 Cx3cr1-/- mice on chow and high-fat diet to determine the metabolic effects of Cx3cr1 deficiency. We found no difference in body weight and fat content or feeding and energy expenditure between Cx3cr1-/- and WT mice. Cx3cr1-/- mice had reduced glucose intolerance assessed by intraperitoneal glucose tolerance tests at chow and high-fat fed states, though there was no difference in glucose-stimulated insulin values. Cx3cr1-/- mice also had improved insulin sensitivity at hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, with higher glucose infusion rate, rate of disposal, and hepatic glucose production suppression compared to WT mice. Enhanced insulin signaling in response to acute intravenous insulin injection was demonstrated in Cx3cr1-/- by increased liver protein levels of phosphorylated AKT and GSK3? proteins. There were no differences in adipose tissue macrophage populations, circulating inflammatory monocytes, adipokines, lipids, or inflammatory markers. In conclusion, we demonstrate a moderate and reproducible protective effect of Cx3cr1 deficiency on glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Activated microglia are polarized into the M1 or M2 phenotype. We previously reported that electroacupuncture (EA) effectively prevented nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) nuclear translocation and improved neuronal C-X-C motif 3 chemokine ligand 1 (CX3CL1) expression, repressing microglial activation by upregulating neuronal cylindromatosis (CYLD) expression in the periischemic cortex. However, the potential mechanisms are unclear. Therefore, we explored whether EA improved CYLD protein expression to regulate microglial polarization-mediated neuroinflammation and the potential mechanisms in an ischemic stroke model.<h4>Methods</h4>A middle cerebral artery occlusion/reperfusion (MCAO/R) model was established in male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The rats were treated with EA at the Baihui, Hegu and Taichong acupoints once daily beginning 2 h after focal cerebral ischemia. CYLD gene interference was used to investigate the role of CYLD in microglial polarization. We used neurobehavioral evaluations and TTC staining to examine the neuroprotective effect of EA via CYLD upregulation. Immunofluorescence and RT-qPCR were used to measure NLRP3 activation, M1/M2 microglial activation, pro-/anti-inflammatory gene mRNA expression and crosstalk (CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis) between neurons and microglia. Western blotting was used to assess the underlying molecular mechanism.<h4>Results</h4>CYLD inhibited M1 microglial activation and improved M2 microglial activation after 72 h of reperfusion. CYLD overexpression decreased the NLRP3 mRNA level. CYLD suppressed microglial overactivation by inhibiting NLRP3 activation. CYLD gene silencing partially weakened EA improvement of neurological function deficits and reduction of infarct volumes after 72 h reperfusion. In addition, EA inhibited M1-like phenotypic microglial activation and promoted M2-like phenotypic microglia through upregulating CYLD expression. Finally, EA-mediated modulation of the CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis and NLRP3 inflammasome was reversed by CYLD gene silencing in the periischemic cortex.<h4>Conclusion</h4>EA-induced upregulation of neuronal CYLD expression plays anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective roles and regulates the interaction between neurons and microglia, thereby suppressing M1 and improving M2 microglial activation in the periischemic cortex.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>The purpose of the study was to explore the impact of dual targeting of C-C motif chemokine receptor-2 (CCR2) and fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1) on the metabolic and inflammatory consequences of obesity induced by a high-fat diet (HFD).<h4>Methods</h4>C57BL/6J wild-type, Cx3cr1<sup>-/-</sup> , Ccr2<sup>-/-</sup> , and Cx3cr1<sup>-/-</sup> Ccr2<sup>-/-</sup> double-knockout male and female mice were fed a 45% HFD for up to 25 weeks starting at 12 weeks of age.<h4>Results</h4>All groups gained weight at a similar rate and developed a similar degree of adiposity, hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, and impairment of insulin sensitivity in response to HFD. As expected, the circulating monocyte count was decreased in Ccr2<sup>-/-</sup> and Cx3cr1<sup>-/-</sup> Ccr2<sup>-/-</sup> mice but not in Cx3cr1<sup>-/-</sup> mice. Flow cytometric analysis of perigonadal adipose tissue of male, but not female, mice revealed trends to lower CD11c+MGL1- M1-like macrophages and higher CD11c-MGL1+?M2-like macrophages as a percentage of CD45+F4/80+CD11b+?macrophages in Cx3cr1<sup>-/-</sup> Ccr2<sup>-/-</sup> mice versus wild-type mice, suggesting reduced adipose tissue macrophage activation. In contrast, single knockout of Ccr2 or Cx3cr1 did not differ in their adipose macrophage phenotypes.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Although CCR2 and CX3CR1 may synergistically impact inflammatory phenotypes, their joint deficiency did not influence the metabolic effects of a 45% HFD-induced obesity in these model conditions.