The Dual Role of Microglia in ALS: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Approaches.
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a non-cell autonomous motor neuron loss. While it is generally believed that the disease onset takes place inside motor neurons, different cell types mediating neuroinflammatory processes are considered deeply involved in the progression of the disease. On these grounds, many treatments have been tested on ALS animals with the aim of inhibiting or reducing the pro-inflammatory action of microglia and astrocytes and counteract the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, these anti-inflammatory therapies have been only modestly successful. The non-univocal role played by microglia during stress and injuries might explain this failure. Indeed, it is now well recognized that, during ALS, microglia displays different phenotypes, from surveillant in early stages, to activated states, M1 and M2, characterized by the expression of respectively harmful and protective genes in later phases of the disease. Consistently, the inhibition of microglial function seems to be a valid strategy only if the different stages of microglia polarization are taken into account, interfering with the reactivity of microglia specifically targeting only the harmful pathways and/or potentiating the trophic ones. In this review article, we will analyze the features and timing of microglia activation in the light of M1/M2 phenotypes in the main mice models of ALS. Moreover, we will also revise the results obtained by different anti-inflammatory therapies aimed to unbalance the M1/M2 ratio, shifting it towards a protective outcome.
Project description:AIMS:Although the pathophysiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is still not completely understood, the deregulated microglia polarization and neuroinflammation have been shown to contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of this disease. In the present study, we aimed to determine whether hirsutella sinensis (HS) could reduce neuroinflammatory and pathological changes in the spinal cord of SOD1G93A model mice of ALS and consequently ameliorate disease onset and progression. METHODS:SOD1G93A mice were chronically treated with HS by gavage. Their lifespan was recorded, and motor behavior was evaluated by rotarod test. The pathological changes in skeletal muscles and motor neurons in spinal cords were assessed by immunofluorescent staining and hematoxylin-eosin staining. The microglia activation and neuroinflammation were determined by immunofluorescent staining and RT-PCR. RESULTS:Our data suggested that repeated HS administration prolonged the lifespan and extended disease duration of ALS mice without significant delay on disease onset. HS ameliorated the pathological changes in the motor neurons and gastrocnemius muscles. Moreover, HS promoted the transition of microglia from pro-inflammatory M1 to anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype in the spinal cord of ALS mice. CONCLUSION:All these findings indicate that HS may serve as a potential therapeutic candidate for the treatment of ALS.
Project description:Background: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 SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS. Methods: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 SOD1G93A 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 SOD1G93A mice and WT mice were evaluated by immunofluorescent staining of M1/M2 markers and further confirmed by qPCR analysis of M1/M2-related cytokines. Results: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. Conclusions: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:Microglia cells are the primary immune population of the central nervous system with a role in the regulation of several physiological and pathological conditions. Upon appropriate stimulation, microglia cells can be polarized in a pro-inflammatory M1-like or anti-inflammatory M2-like status. Biological processes and pathways engaged in microglia polarization are starting to be elucidated. To help clarify this, we used a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) label free approach to characterize the proteomic profile of human microglia cell line (CHME-5) stimulated with gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) to induce a M1 or M2 phenotype, respectively. Outside the classical M1/M2 polarization markers, the M1 status appears to center around the activation of a classical inflammatory response and through the activation of multiple signaling pathways. M2 polarization resulted in a different pattern of protein modulation related to RNA and cellular metabolic processes. Together, our findings provide information regarding the protein changes specific to M1 and M2 activation states, and potentially link the polarization of microglia cells to the acquisition of a specific proteomic profile.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a clinically heterogeneous disorder characterized by loss of motor neurons, resulting in paralysis and death. Multiple mechanisms of motor neuron injury have been implicated based upon the more than 20 different genetic causes of familial ALS. These inherited mutations compromise diverse motor neuron pathways leading to cell-autonomous injury. In the ALS transgenic mouse models, however, motor neurons do not die alone. Cell death is noncell-autonomous dependent upon a well orchestrated dialogue between motor neurons and surrounding glia and adaptive immune cells. The pathogenesis of ALS consists of 2 stages: an early neuroprotective stage and a later neurotoxic stage. During early phases of disease progression, the immune system is protective with glia and T cells, especially M2 macrophages/microglia, and T helper 2 cells and regulatory T cells, providing anti-inflammatory factors that sustain motor neuron viability. As the disease progresses and motor neuron injury accelerates, a second rapidly progressing phase develops, characterized by M1 macrophages/microglia, and proinflammatory T cells. In rapidly progressing ALS patients, as in transgenic mice, neuroprotective regulatory T cells are significantly decreased and neurotoxicity predominates. Our own therapeutic efforts are focused on modulating these neuroinflammatory pathways. This review will focus on the cellular players involved in neuroinflammation in ALS and current therapeutic strategies to enhance neuroprotection and suppress neurotoxicity with the goal of arresting the progressive and devastating nature of ALS.
Project description:Neuroinflammation is considered to be an important and inevitable pathological process associated with all types of damages to, and disorders of, the central nervous system. The hallmark of neuroinflammation is the microglia activation. In response to different micro-environmental disturbances, microglia could polarize into either an M1 pro-inflammatory phenotype, exacerbating neurotoxicity, or an M2 anti-inflammatory phenotype, exerting neuroprotection. Therefore, shifting the polarization of microglia toward the M2 phenotype could possess a more viable strategy for the neuroinflammatory disorders treatment. Naringenin (NAR) is naturally a grapefruit flavonoid and possesses various kinds of pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the potential effects of NAR on microglial M1/M2 polarization and further reveal the underlying mechanisms of actions. First, NAR inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced microglial activation. Then, NAR shifted the M1 pro-inflammatory microglia phenotype to the M2 anti-inflammatory M2 microglia state as demonstrated by the decreased expression of M1 markers (i.e., inducible TNF-? and IL-1?) and the elevated expression of M2 markers (i.e., arginase 1, IL-4, and IL-10). In addition, the effects of NAR on microglial polarization were dependent on MAPK signaling, particularly JNK inactivation, as evidenced by the fact that the selective activator of JNK abolished NAR-promoted M2 polarization and further NAR-inhibited microglial activation. Together, this study demonstrated that NAR promoted microglia M1/M2 polarization, thus conferring anti-neuroinflammatory effects via the inhibition of MAPK signaling activation. These findings might provide new alternative avenues for neuroinflammation-related disorders treatment.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Microglia play crucial roles in the maintenance of brain homeostasis. Activated microglia show a biphasic influence, promoting beneficial repair and causing harmful damage via M2 and M1 microglia, respectively. It is well-known that microglia are initially activated to the M2 state and subsequently switch to the M1 state, called M2-to-M1 class switching in acute ischemic models. However, the activation process of microglia in chronic and sporadic hypertension remains poorly understood. We aimed to clarify the process using a chronic hypertension model, the deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt-treated Wistar rats. METHODS:After unilateral nephrectomy, the rats were randomly divided into DOCA-salt, placebo, and control groups. DOCA-salt rats received a weekly subcutaneous injection of DOCA (40 mg/kg) and were continuously provided with 1% NaCl in drinking water. Placebo rats received a weekly subcutaneous injection of vehicle and were provided with tap water. Control rats received no administration of DOCA or NaCl. To investigate the temporal expression profiles of M1- and M2-specific markers for microglia, the animals were subjected to the immunohistochemical and biochemical studies after 2, 3, or 4 weeks DOCA-salt treatment. RESULTS:Hypertension occurred after 2 weeks of DOCA and salt administration, when round-shaped microglia with slightly shortened processes were observed juxtaposed to the vessels, although the histopathological findings were normal. After 3 weeks of DOCA and salt administration, M1-state perivascular and parenchyma microglia significantly increased, when local histopathological findings began to be observed but cerebrovascular destruction did not occur. On the other hand, M2-state microglia were never observed around the vessels at this period. Interestingly, prior to M1 activation, about 55% of perivascular microglia transiently expressed Ki-67, one of the cell proliferation markers. CONCLUSIONS:We concluded that the resting perivascular microglia directly switched to the pro-inflammatory M1 state via a transient proliferative state in DOCA-salt rats. Our results suggest that the activation machinery of microglia in chronic hypertension differs from acute ischemic models. Proliferative microglia are possible initial key players in the development of hypertension-induced cerebral vessel damage. Fine-tuning of microglia proliferation and activation could constitute an innovative therapeutic strategy to prevent its development.
Project description:The study of microglia, the immune cells of the brain, has experienced a renaissance after the discovery of microglia polarization. In fact, the concept that activated microglia can shift into the M1 pro-inflammatory or M2 neuroprotective phenotypes, depending on brain microenvironment, has completely changed the understanding of microglia in brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia polarization is particularly important in aging since an increased inflammatory status of body compartments, including the brain, has been reported in elderly people. In addition, inflammatory markers, mainly derived from activated microglia, are widely present in neurodegenerative diseases. Microglial inflammatory dysfunction, also linked to microglial senescence, has been extensively demonstrated and associated with cognitive impairment in neuropathological conditions related to aging. In fact, microglia polarization is known to influence cognitive function and has therefore become a main player in neurodegenerative diseases leading to dementia. As the life span of human beings increases, so does the prevalence of cognitive dysfunction. Thus, therapeutic strategies aimed to modify microglia polarization are currently being developed. Pharmacological approaches able to shift microglia from M1 pro-inflammatory to M2 neuroprotective phenotype are actually being studied, by acting on many different molecular targets, such as glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) β, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), histone deacetylases (HDACs), etc. Furthermore, nutritional approaches can also modify microglia polarization and, consequently, impact cognitive function. Several bioactive compounds normally present in foods, such as polyphenols, can have anti-inflammatory effects on microglia. Both pharmacological and nutritional approaches seem to be promising, but still need further development. Here we review recent data on these approaches and propose that their combination could have a synergistic effect to counteract cognitive aging impairment and Alzheimer's disease (AD) through immunomodulation of microglia polarization, i.e., by driving the shift of activated microglia from the pro-inflammatory M1 to the neuroprotective M2 phenotype.
Project description:Microglia are resident immune cells of the CNS that are activated by infection, neuronal injury, and inflammation. Here, we utilize flow cytometry and deep RNA sequencing of acutely isolated spinal cord microglia to define their activation in vivo. Analysis of resting microglia identified 29 genes that distinguish microglia from other CNS cells and peripheral macrophages/monocytes. We then analyzed molecular changes in microglia during neurodegenerative disease activation using the SOD1(G93A) mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We found that SOD1(G93A) microglia are not derived from infiltrating monocytes, and that both potentially neuroprotective and toxic factors, including Alzheimer's disease genes, are concurrently upregulated. Mutant microglia differed from SOD1(WT), lipopolysaccharide-activated microglia, and M1/M2 macrophages, defining an ALS-specific phenotype. Concurrent messenger RNA/fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis revealed posttranscriptional regulation of microglia surface receptors and T cell-associated changes in the transcriptome. These results provide insights into microglia biology and establish a resource for future studies of neuroinflammation.
Project description:Accumulation of mutated superoxide dismutase 1 (mSOD1) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves injury to motor neurons (MNs), activation of glial cells and immune unbalance. However, neuroinflammation, besides its detrimental effects, also plays beneficial roles in ALS pathophysiology. Therefore, the targeting of microglia to modulate the release of inflammatory neurotoxic mediators and their exosomal dissemination, while strengthening cell neuroprotective properties, has gained growing interest. We used the N9 microglia cell line to identify phenotype diversity upon the overexpression of wild-type (WT; hSOD1WT) and mutated G93A (hSOD1G93A) protein. To investigate how each transduced cell respond to an inflammatory stimulus, N9 microglia were treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Glycoursodeoxycholic acid (GUDCA) and dipeptidyl vinyl sulfone (VS), known to exert neuroprotective properties, were tested for their immunoregulatory properties. Reduced Fizz1, IL-10 and TLR4 mRNAs were observed in both transduced cells. However, in contrast with hSOD1WT-induced decreased of inflammatory markers, microglia transduced with hSOD1G93A showed upregulation of pro-inflammatory (TNF-?/IL-1?/HMGB1/S100B/iNOS) and membrane receptors (MFG-E8/RAGE). Importantly, their derived exosomes were enriched in HMGB1 and SOD1. When inflammatory-associated miRNAs were evaluated, increased miR-146a in cells with overexpressed hSOD1WT was not recapitulated in their exosomes, whereas hSOD1G93A triggered elevated exosomal miR-155/miR-146a, but no changes in cells. LPS stimulus increased M1/M2 associated markers in the naïve microglia, including MFG-E8, miR-155 and miR-146a, whose expression was decreased in both hSOD1WT and hSOD1G93A cells treated with LPS. Treatment with GUDCA or VS led to a decrease of TNF-?, IL-1?, HMGB1, S100B and miR-155 in hSOD1G93A microglia. Only GUDCA was able to increase cellular IL-10, RAGE and TLR4, together with miR-21, while decreased exosomal miR-155 cargo. Conversely, VS reduced MMP-2/MMP-9 activation, as well as upregulated MFG-E8 and miR-146a, while producing miR-21 shuttling into exosomes. The current study supports the powerful role of overexpressed hSOD1WT in attenuating M1/M2 activation, and that of hSOD1G93A in switching microglia from the steady state into a reactive phenotype with low responsiveness to stimuli. This work further reveals GUDCA and VS as promising modulators of microglia immune response by eliciting common and compound-specific molecular mechanisms that may promote neuroregeneration.
Project description:Neuroinflammation contributes to many neurologic disorders including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. Microglia is brain resident myeloid cells and have emerged as a key driver of the neuroinflammatory responses. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) provide a novel layer of gene regulation and play a critical role in regulating the inflammatory response of peripheral macrophages. However, little is known about the miRNA in inflammatory activation of microglia. To elucidate the role that miRNAs have on microglial phenotypes under classical (M1) or alternative (M2) activation under lipopolysaccharide ('M1'-skewing) and interleukin-4 ('M2a'-skewing) stimulation conditions, we performed microarray expression profiling and bioinformatics analysis of both mRNA and miRNA using primary cultured murine microglia. miR-689, miR-124, and miR-155 were the most strongly associated miRNAs predicted to mediate pro-inflammatory pathways and M1-like activation phenotype. miR-155, the most strongly up-regulated miRNA, regulates the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 signaling pathway enabling the late phase response to M1-skewing stimulation. Reduced expression in miR-689 and miR-124 are associated with dis-inhibition of many canonical inflammatory pathways. miR-124, miR-711, miR-145 are the strongly associated miRNAs predicted to mediate anti-inflammatory pathways and M2-like activation phenotype. Reductions in miR-711 and miR-124 may regulate inflammatory signaling pathways and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma pathway. miR-145 potentially regulate peripheral monocyte/macrophage differentiation and faciliate the M2-skewing phenotype. Overall, through combined miRNA and mRNA expression profiling and bioinformatics analysis we have identified six miRNAs and their putative roles in M1 and M2-skewing of microglial activation through different signaling pathways.