Connexin 30 Deficiency Attenuates Chronic but Not Acute Phases of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Through Induction of Neuroprotective Microglia.
ABSTRACT: Glial connexins (Cxs) form gap junction channels through which a pan-glial network plays key roles in maintaining homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS). In multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), expression of astrocytic Cx43 is lost in acute lesions but upregulated in chronic plaques, while astrocytic Cx30 is very low in normal white matter and changes in its expression have not been convincingly shown. In Cx30 or Cx43 single knockout (KO) mice and even in Cx30/Cx43 double KO mice, acute EAE is unaltered. However, the effects of Cx30/Cx43 deficiency on chronic EAE remains to be elucidated. We aimed to clarify the roles of Cx30 in chronic neuroinflammation by studying EAE induced by myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide 35-55 in Cx30 KO mice. We found that Cx30 deficiency improved the clinical symptoms and demyelination of chronic but not acute EAE without influencing CD3+ T cell infiltration. Furthermore, increased ramified microglia in the naïve state and induced earlier and stronger microglial activation in the acute and chronic phases of EAE was observed. These activated microglia had an anti-inflammatory phenotype, as shown by the upregulation of arginase-1 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the downregulation of nitric oxide synthase 2. In the naïve state, Cx30 deficiency induced modest enlargement of astrocytic processes in the spinal cord gray matter and a partial reduction of Cx43 expression in the spinal cord white matter. These astrocytes in Cx30 KO mice showed earlier and stronger activation during the acute phase of EAE, with upregulated A2 astrocyte markers and a significant decrease in Cx43 in the chronic phases. Spinal cord neurons and axons were more preserved in Cx30 KO mice than in littermates in the chronic phase of EAE. These findings suggest that Cx30 deficiency increased ramified microglia in the CNS in the naïve state and improved chronic EAE through redirecting microglia toward an anti-inflammatory phenotype, suggesting a hitherto unknown critical role of astrocytic Cx30 in regulating microglial number and functional state.
Project description:Objective: Connexins are known to compose gap junctions by a pair of hemichannels connected in a head to head configuration. Each hemichannel is composed by hexameric cluster of connexins. There are 20 members of connexins known as connexin family in mice, and are expressed on each cell surface in different fashion. Connexin 30 (Cx30) is mainly expressed on the surface of oligodendroglia and astrocyte in central nervous system (CNS), but little is known about the functional relevance in neuroinflammatory diseases. To elucidate the role of Cx30 in the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory disease, we induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) on Cx30 knock-out (Cx30-KO) mice and analyzed the clinical and neuropathological findings with wild-type control. Methods: C57BL/6J and Cx30-KO mice > 12 weeks of age were used in this study (N > 3 in each group). EAE was induced by immunization of mice with MOG35-55 peptide emulsified in CFA at a dose of 200 μg per mouse, followed by the administration of pertussis toxin (500 ng per mouse) on days 0 and 2. Mice were sacrificed and brain, spinal cord, spleen, and optic nerve were harvested for immunohistochemical analyses at the acute and chronic phases of EAE. Mice with EAE were scored as follows: 0, no disease; 1, limp tail; 2, abnormal gait and hind limb weakness (shaking); 2.5, paralysis of one hind limb; 3, paralysis of two hind limb; 3.5, ascending paralysis (able to move around); 4, tetraplegia; and 5, moribund (death). At the onset and chronic stage of EAE, mononuclear cells were isolated and analyzed by flow cytometry to check the distinct characteristics of cellular populations in inflamed CNS lesions. Results: Initial screening of immunohistological difference revealed basic activation of microglial cells in naïve Cx30-KO mice without any behavioral phenotype. Clinical signs of EAE were ameliorated in the Cx30-KO mice than in the control group mainly during the chronic phase of disease course. Immunohistochemical analyses of the fourth lumbar segment, brain and optic nerve revealed increased number of microglia in the Cx30-KO mice. Flow cytometric analysis also confirmed the findings. In contrast, there were no significant change in astroglial or oligodendroglial phenotype. Conclusion: Microglial activation appears to be the key factor in the Cx30-KO mice EAE with alleviation of chronic disease scores. Unexpectedly, microglia were already activated in naïve CNS, indicating protective phenotypic change of microglia in Cx30-KO mice. Overall design: We have collected microglia from wild type and Cx30 deficient mice with EAE. Each group cotained 3 mice. Collected microglia were pooled together for the analysis.
Project description:In this study, we have investigated the contribution of oligodendrocytic connexin47 (Cx47) and astrocytic Cx30 to panglial gap junctional networks as well as myelin maintenance and function by deletion of both connexin coding DNAs in mice. Biocytin injections revealed complete disruption of oligodendrocyte-to-astrocyte coupling in the white matter of 10- to 15-d-old Cx30/Cx47 double-deficient mice, while oligodendrocyte-to-oligodendrocyte coupling was maintained. There were no quantitative differences regarding cellular networks in acute brain slices obtained from Cx30/Cx47 double-null mice and control littermates, probably caused by the upregulation of oligodendrocytic Cx32 in Cx30/Cx47 double-deficient mice. We observed early onset myelin pathology, and ?40% of Cx30/Cx47 double-deficient animals died within 42 to 90 d after birth, accompanied by severe motor impairments. Histological and ultrastructural analyses revealed severe vacuolization and myelination defects in all white matter tracts of the CNS. Furthermore, Cx30/Cx47 double-deficient mice exhibited a decreased number of oligodendrocytes, severe astrogliosis, and microglial activation in white matter tracts. Although less affected concerning motor impairment, surviving double-knock-out (KO) mice showed behavioral alterations in the open field and in the rotarod task. Vacuole formation and thinner myelin sheaths were evident also with adult surviving double-KO mice. Since interastrocytic coupling due to Cx43 expression and interoligodendrocytic coupling because of Cx32 expression are still maintained, Cx30/Cx47 double-deficient mice demonstrate the functional role of both connexins for interastrocytic, interoligodendrocytic, and panglial coupling, and show that both connexins are required for maintenance of myelin.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica (NMO) occasionally have an extremely aggressive and debilitating disease course; however, its molecular basis is unknown. This study aimed to determine a relationship between connexin (Cx) pathology and disease aggressiveness in Asian patients with MS and NMO. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Samples included 11 autopsied cases with NMO and NMO spectrum disorder (NMOSD), six with MS, and 20 with other neurological diseases (OND). Methods of analysis included immunohistochemical expression of astrocytic Cx43/Cx30, oligodendrocytic Cx47/Cx32 relative to AQP4 and other astrocytic and oligodendrocytic proteins, extent of demyelination, the vasculocentric deposition of complement and immunoglobulin, and lesion staging by CD68 staining for macrophages. Lesions were classified as actively demyelinating (n=59), chronic active (n=58) and chronic inactive (n=23). Sera from 120 subjects including 30 MS, 30 NMO, 40 OND and 20 healthy controls were examined for anti-Cx43 antibody by cell-based assay. Six NMO/NMOSD and three MS cases showed preferential loss of astrocytic Cx43 beyond the demyelinated areas in actively demyelinating and chronic active lesions, where heterotypic Cx43/Cx47 astrocyte oligodendrocyte gap junctions were extensively lost. Cx43 loss was significantly associated with a rapidly progressive disease course as six of nine cases with Cx43 loss, but none of eight cases without Cx43 loss regardless of disease phenotype, died within two years after disease onset (66.7% vs. 0%, P=0.0090). Overall, five of nine cases with Cx43 loss and none of eight cases without Cx43 loss had distal oligodendrogliopathy characterized by selective myelin associated glycoprotein loss (55.6% vs. 0.0%, P=0.0296). Loss of oligodendrocytic Cx32 and Cx47 expression was observed in most active and chronic lesions from all MS and NMO/NMOSD cases. Cx43-specific antibodies were absent in NMO/NMOSD and MS patients. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that autoantibody-independent astrocytic Cx43 loss may relate to disease aggressiveness and distal oligodendrogliopathy in both MS and NMO.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The astroglial connexins Cx30 and Cx43 contribute to many important CNS functions including cognitive behaviour, motoric capacity and regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. The sleep wake cycle, is controlled by the circadian system. The central circadian rhythm generator resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN neurons are tightly coupled in order to generate a coherent circadian rhythm. The SCN receives excitatory glutamatergic input from the retina which mediates entrainment of the circadian system to the environmental light-dark cycle. Connexins play an important role in electric coupling of SCN neurons and astrocytic-neuronal signalling that regulates rhythmic SCN neuronal activity. However, little is known about the regulation of Cx30 and Cx43 expression in the SCN, and the role of these connexins in light entrainment of the circadian system and in circadian rhythm generation. METHODS:We analysed time-of-day dependent as well as circadian expression of Cx30 and Cx43 mRNA and protein in the mouse SCN by means of qPCR and immunohistochemistry. Moreover, we analysed rhythmic spontaneous locomotor activity in mice with a targeted deletion of Cx30 and astrocyte specific deletion of Cx43 (DKO) in different light regimes by means of on-cage infrared detectors. RESULTS:Fluctuation of Cx30 protein expression is strongly dependent on the light-dark cycle whereas fluctuation of Cx43 protein expression persisted in constant darkness. DKO mice entrained to the light-dark cycle. However, re-entrainment after a phase delay was slightly impaired in DKO mice. Surprisingly, DKO mice were more resilient to chronodisruption. CONCLUSION:Circadian fluctuation of Cx30 and Cx43 protein expression in the SCN is differently regulated. Cx30 and astroglial Cx43 play a role in rhythm stability and re-entrainment under challenging conditions.
Project description:We previously reported early and extensive loss of astrocytic connexin 43 (Cx43) in acute demyelinating lesions of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Because it is widely accepted that autoimmune T cells initiate MS lesions, we hypothesized that infiltrating T cells affect Cx43 expression in astrocytes, which contributes to MS lesion formation. Primary mixed glial cell cultures were prepared from newborn mouse brains, and microglia were isolated by anti-CD11b antibody-conjugated magnetic beads. Next, we prepared astrocyte-rich cultures and astrocyte/microglia-mixed cultures. Treatment of primary mixed glial cell cultures with interferon (IFN) ?, interleukin (IL)-4, or IL-17 showed that only IFN? or IL-17 at high concentrations reduced Cx43 protein levels. Upon treatment of astrocyte-rich cultures and astrocyte/microglia-mixed cultures with IFN?, Cx43 mRNA/protein levels and the function of gap junctions were reduced only in astrocyte/microglia-mixed cultures. IFN?-treated microglia-conditioned media and IL-1?, which was markedly increased in IFN?-treated microglia-conditioned media, reduced Cx43 protein levels in astrocyte-rich cultures. Finally, we confirmed that Th1 cell-conditioned medium decreased Cx43 protein levels in mixed glial cell cultures. These findings suggest that Th1 cell-derived IFN? activates microglia to release IL-1? that reduces Cx43 gap junctions in astrocytes. Thus, Th1-dominant inflammatory states disrupt astrocytic intercellular communication and may exacerbate MS.
Project description:The thalamus plays important roles as a relay station for sensory information in the central nervous system (CNS). Although thalamic glial cells participate in this activity, little is known about their properties. In this study, we characterized the formation of coupled networks between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the murine ventrobasal thalamus and compared these properties with those in the hippocampus and cortex. Biocytin filling of individual astrocytes or oligodendrocytes revealed large panglial networks in all 3 gray matter regions. Combined analyses of mice with cell type-specific deletion of connexins (Cxs), semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blotting showed that Cx30 is the dominant astrocytic Cx in the thalamus. Many thalamic astrocytes even lack expression of Cx43, while in the hippocampus astrocytic coupling is dominated by Cx43. Deletion of Cx30 and Cx47 led to complete loss of panglial coupling, which was restored when one allele of either Cxs was present. Immunohistochemistry revealed a unique antigen profile of thalamic glia and identified an intermediate cell type expressing both Olig2 and Cx43. Our findings further the emerging concept of glial heterogeneity across brain regions.
Project description:Glial gap junction proteins, called connexins (Cxs), form gap junctions in the central nervous system (CNS) to allow the bidirectional cytosolic exchange of molecules between adjacent cells. Their involvement in inheritable diseases and the use of experimental animal models that closely mimic such diseases revealed the critical role of glial GJs in myelination and homeostasis. Cxs are also implicated in acquired demyelinating disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Animal and human studies have revealed a role of the astrocytic Cx43 in the progression of AD but the role of Cx47, which is the main partner of Cx43 in the astrocyte-oligodendrocyte GJs is still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the astrocytic connexins, Cx43 and Cx30 in relation to oligodendrocytic Cx47 in the cortex and thalamus of the 5XFAD mouse model of AD. The model was characterized by increased A? deposition, gliosis, neuronal loss, and memory impairment. Compared to wild-type mice, Cx43 and Cx30 showed increased immunoreactivity in older 5XFAD mice, reflecting astrogliosis, while Cx47 immunoreactivity was reduced. Moreover, Cx47 GJ plaques showed reduced colocalization with Cx43 plaques. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) and mature oligodendrocyte populations were also depleted, and myelin deficits were observed. Our findings indicate reduced astrocyte-oligodendrocyte gap junction connectivity and possibly a shift in Cx43 expression toward astrocyte-astrocyte gap junctions and/or hemichannels, that could impair oligodendrocyte homeostasis and myelination. However, other factors, such as A? toxicity, could directly affect oligodendrocyte survival in AD. Our study provides evidence that Cxs might have implications in the progression of AD, although the role of oligodendrocyte Cxs in AD requires further investigation.
Project description:Calorie-restricted (CR) diet has multiple beneficial effects on brain function. Here we report morphological and functional changes in hippocampal astrocytes in 3-months-old mice subjected to 1 month of the diet. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were performed in the CA1 stratum (str.) radiatum astrocytes of hippocampal slices. The cells were also loaded with fluorescent dye through the patch pipette. CR did not affect the number of astrocytic branches but increased the volume fraction (VF) of distal perisynaptic astrocytic leaflets. The astrocyte growth did not lead to a decrease in the cell input resistance, which may be attributed to a decrease in astrocyte coupling through the gap junctions. Western blotting revealed a decrease in the expression of Cx43 but not Cx30. Immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated a decrease in the density and size of Cx43 clusters. Cx30 cluster density did not change, while their size increased in the vicinity of astrocytic soma. CR shortened K+ and glutamate transporter currents in astrocytes in response to 5?×?50?Hz Schaffer collateral stimulation. However, no change in the expression of astrocytic glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) was observed, while the level of glutamine synthetase (GS) decreased. These findings suggest that enhanced enwrapping of synapses by the astrocytic leaflets reduces glutamate and K+ spillover. Reduced spillover led to a decreased contribution of extrasynaptic N2B containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) to the tail of burst-induced EPSCs. The magnitude of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the glutamatergic CA3-CA1 synapses was significantly enhanced after CR. This enhancement was abolished by N2B-NMDARs antagonist. Our findings suggest that astrocytic morphofunctional remodeling is responsible for enhanced synaptic plasticity, which provides a basis for improved learning and memory reported after CR.
Project description:Several recent findings have shown that neurons as well as astrocytes are organized into networks. Indeed, astrocytes are interconnected through connexin-formed gap junction channels allowing exchanges of ions and signaling molecules. The aim of this study is to characterize astrocyte network properties in mouse olfactory glomeruli where neuronal connectivity is highly ordered. Dye-coupling experiments performed in olfactory bulb acute slices (P16-P22) highlight a preferential communication between astrocytes within glomeruli and not between astrocytes in adjacent glomeruli. Such organization relies on the oriented morphology of glomerular astrocytes to the glomerulus center and the enriched expression of two astroglial connexins (Cx43 and Cx30) within the glomeruli. Glomerular astrocytes detect neuronal activity showing membrane potential fluctuations correlated with glomerular local field potentials. Accordingly, gap junctional coupling of glomerular networks is reduced when neuronal activity is silenced by TTX treatment or after early sensory deprivation. Such modulation is lost in Cx30 but not in Cx43 KO mice, indicating that Cx30-formed channels are the molecular targets of this activity-dependent modulation. Extracellular potassium is a key player in this neuroglial interaction, because (i) the inhibition of dye coupling observed in the presence of TTX or after sensory deprivation is restored by increasing [K(+)](e) and (ii) treatment with a K(ir) channel blocker inhibits dye spread between glomerular astrocytes. Together, these results demonstrate that extracellular potassium generated by neuronal activity modulates Cx30-mediated gap junctional communication between glomerular astrocytes, indicating that strong neuroglial interactions take place at this first relay of olfactory information processing.
Project description:Astrocytes are coupled via gap junctions (GJs) comprising connexin 43 (Cx43) (Gja1) and Cx30 (Gjb6), which facilitate intercellular exchange of ions. Astrocyte connexins also form heterotypic GJs with oligodendrocytic somata and lamellae. Loss of oligodendrocyte gap junctions results in oligodendrocyte and myelin pathology. However, whether loss of astrocyte GJs affects oligodendrocytes and myelin is not known. To address this question, mice with astrocyte-targeted deletion of Cx43 and global loss of Cx30 [double knock-out (dKO)] were studied using Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and functional assays. Commencing around postnatal day 23 and persisting into old age, we found widespread pathology of white matter tracts comprising vacuolated oligodendrocytes and intramyelinic edema. In contrast, gray matter pathology was restricted to the CA1 region of the hippocampus, and consisted of edematous astrocytes. No differences were observed in synaptic density or total NeuN(+) cells in the hippocampus, or olig2(+) cells in the corpus callosum. However, in dKO mice, fewer CC1-positive mature oligodendrocytes were detected, and Western blotting indicated reduced myelin basic protein. Pathology was not noted in mice expressing a single allele of either Cx43 or Cx30. When compared with single connexin knock-outs, dKO mice were impaired in sensorimotor (rotarod, balance beam assays) and spatial memory tasks (object recognition assays). We conclude that loss of astrocytic GJs can result in white matter pathology that has functional consequences.