We hypothesize that cortical ATP and ADP accumulating in the extracellular space, eg during prolonged network activity, contribute to a decline in cognitive performance in particular via stimulation of the G protein-coupled P2Y1 receptor (P2Y1R) subtype. Here, we report first evidence on P2Y1R-mediated control of cognitive functioning in rats using bilateral microinfusions of the selective agonist MRS2365 into medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). MRS2365 attenuated prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex while having no impact on startle amplitude. Stimulation of P2Y1Rs deteriorated performance accuracy in the delayed non-matching to position task in a delay dependent manner and increased the rate of magazine entries consistent with both working memory disturbances and impaired impulse control. Further, MRS2365 significantly impaired performance in the reversal learning task. These effects might be related to MRS2365-evoked increase of dopamine observed by microdialysis to be short-lasting in mPFC and long-lasting in the nucleus accumbens. P2Y1Rs were identified on pyramidal cells and parvalbumin-positive interneurons, but not on tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibers, which argues for an indirect activation of dopaminergic afferents in the cortex by MRS2365. Collectively, these results suggest that activation of P2Y1Rs in the mPFC impairs inhibitory control and behavioral flexibility mediated by increased mesocorticolimbic activity and local disinhibition.Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 20 August 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.173.
Rapamycin is a drug with antiproliferative and immunosuppressive properties, widely used for prevention of acute graft rejection and cancer therapy. It specifically inhibits the activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a protein kinase known to play an important role in cell growth, proliferation and antibody production. Clinical observations show that patients undergoing therapy with immunosuppressive drugs frequently suffer from affective disorders such as anxiety or depression. However, whether these symptoms are attributed to the action of the distinct compounds remains rather elusive. The present study investigated in rats neurobehavioral consequences of acute rapamycin treatment. Systemic administration of a single low dose rapamycin (3mg/kg) led to enhanced neuronal activity in the amygdala analyzed by intracerebral electroencephalography and FOS protein expression 90min after drug injection. Moreover, behavioral investigations revealed a rapamycin-induced increase in anxiety-related behaviors in the elevated plus-maze and in the open-field. The behavioral alterations correlated to enhanced amygdaloid expression of KLK8 and FKBP51, proteins that have been implicated in the development of anxiety and depression. Together, these results demonstrate that acute blockade of mTOR signaling by acute rapamycin administration not only causes changes in neuronal activity, but also leads to elevated protein expression in protein kinase pathways others than mTOR, contributing to the development of anxiety-like behavior. Given the pivotal role of the amygdala in mood regulation, associative learning, and modulation of cognitive functions, our findings raise the question whether therapy with rapamycin may induce alterations in patients neuropsychological functioning.
The substantia gelatinosa (SG) of the spinal cord processes incoming painful information to ascending projection neurons. Whole-cell patch clamp recordings from SG spinal cord slices documented that in a low Ca(2+) /no Mg(2+) (low X(2+) ) external medium adenosine triphosphate (ATP)/dibenzoyl-ATP, Bz-ATP) caused inward current responses, much larger in amplitude than those recorded in a normal X(2+) -containing bath medium. The effect of Bz-ATP was antagonized by the selective P2X7 receptor antagonist A-438079. Neuronal, but not astrocytic Bz-ATP currents were strongly inhibited by a combination of the ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists AP-5 and CNQX. In fact, all neurons and some astrocytes responded to NMDA, AMPA, and muscimol with inward current, demonstrating the presence of the respective receptors. The reactive oxygen species H2 O2 potentiated the effect of Bz-ATP at neurons but not at astrocytes. Hippocampal CA1 neurons exhibited a behavior similar to, but not identical with SG neurons. Although a combination of AP-5 and CNQX almost abolished the effect of Bz-ATP, H2 O2 was inactive. A Bz-ATP-dependent and A-438079-antagonizable reactive oxygen species production in SG slices was proven by a microelectrode biosensor. Immunohistochemical investigations showed the colocalization of P2X7-immunoreactivity with microglial (Iba1), but not astrocytic (GFAP, S100?) or neuronal (MAP2) markers in the SG. It is concluded that SG astrocytes possess P2X7 receptors; their activation leads to the release of glutamate, which via NMDA- and AMPA receptor stimulation induces cationic current in the neighboring neurons. P2X7 receptors have a very low density under resting conditions but become functionally upregulated under pathological conditions.
In various toxicological studies, single housing of rodents is preferred to standardize for regulatory purposes. However, housing conditions can have severe, often underestimated, impact on results in toxicological examinations. As different husbandry conditions have been shown to impose stress, we investigated their influence on plasma cytokines. Adult male Wistar rats were assigned to one group housed in cages of four and another housed singly for 28 days. Eight animals per group were tested in the forced swim test (FST) for symptoms of "behavioral despair," and in another eight animals per group, plasma concentrations of the stress hormone ACTH, of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-?, IFN-?, IL-2 and IL-22, and of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 were analyzed. Group-housed animals had significantly lower body weight than individually housed animals. The FST revealed symptoms of "behavioral despair" of individually housed rats accompanied by higher levels of ACTH and TNF-? but also of IL-4 and IL-10. No significant differences between housing conditions were found for IFN-?, IL-2 and IL-22. Social isolation by husbandry conditions, apart from any other manipulation, alters the behavioral and immunological status of rats and must be considered when immunological effects are examined in various experimental protocols.
Transient receptor potential melastatin 3 (TRPM3) is a calcium-permeable nonselective cation channel that is expressed in a subset of dorsal root (DRG) and trigeminal ganglia sensory neurons. TRPM3 can be activated by the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate (PregS) and heat. TRPM3?/? mice display an impaired sensation of noxious heat and thermal hyperalgesia. We have previously shown that TRPM3 is blocked by the citrus fruit flavanones hesperetin, naringenin, and eriodictyol as well as by ononetin, a deoxybenzoin from Ononis spinosa. To further improve the tolerability, potency, and selectivity of TRPM3 blockers, we conducted a hit optimization procedure by rescreening a focused library that was composed of chemically related compounds. Within newly identified TRPM3 blockers, isosakuranetin and liquiritigenin displayed favorable properties with respect to their inhibitory potency and a selective mode of action. Isosakuranetin, a flavanone whose glycoside is contained in blood oranges and grapefruits, displayed an IC?? of 50 nM and is to our knowledge the most potent inhibitor of TRPM3 identified so far. Both compounds exhibited a marked specificity for TRPM3 compared with other sensory TRP channels, and blocked PregS-induced intracellular free Ca²? concentration signals and ionic currents in freshly isolated DRG neurons. Furthermore, isosakuranetin and previously identified hesperetin significantly reduced the sensitivity of mice to noxious heat and PregS-induced chemical pain. Because the physiologic functions of TRPM3 channels are still poorly defined, the development and validation of potent and selective blockers is expected to contribute to clarifying the role of TRPM3 in vivo.
The medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to be the highest order association area in the mammalian cortex which is involved in cognitive functions. Especially, layer V pyramidal cells integrating afferent innervations from dopaminergic cell groups in the ventral tegmental area, glutamatergic inputs from the thalamus and neighbouring PFC pyramical cells, as well as GABAergic inputs from local interneurons are crucial for processing short-term working memory. These neurons are endowed with the NMDA- and AMPA-type excitatory amino acid receptors, described to be involved in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, the apparent basis of elementary learning processes. NMDA receptor currents were in fact regulated on the one hand by dopamine D1 receptors and on the other hand by ATP-sensitive receptors of the P2Y-type. P2Y4 receptors acted indirectly to potentiate NMDA receptor-currents by releasing vesicular glutamate from astrocytes, or attenuated these currents directly by stimulating P2Y1 receptors located at the PFC cells themselves. Long-term depression (LTD) induced in PFC pyramidal neurons could be blocked by P2Y1 receptors in a manner not depending on NMDA receptors but targeting voltage-sensitive dendritic Ca2+ channels. In vivo data also support the notion that P2Y1 receptors participate in the regulation of cognitive processes and addiction. For example, in a spatial delayed win-shift task, P2Y1 receptor-activation has been shown to deteriorate not the primary storage of information but its processing during and after a delay. Further, it is widely accepted that behavioural sensitization in animals provides a model for the intensification of drug craving believed to underlie addiction in humans. In fact, sensitization to amphetamine was interrupted by the blockade of P2Y1 receptors in the mesocortico-limbic dopaminergic system.
Stress-induced cytokine changes may be the link between stress and the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders such as depression, and organic diseases such as infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer. We tested the effect of stress on interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-22, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-? and interferon (IFN)-? serum levels in male Wistar rats. Rats underwent either acute stress by forced swimming (N = 8), chronic restraint stress (N = 8), or were not subjected to any stress (N = 8). IL-2 serum levels were significantly higher in forced swimming, but not in restraint stress rats, compared to non-stressed rats. IL-4, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-? levels were higher in both forced swimming and restraint stress compared to non-stressed rats. IFN-? production was significantly decreased by restraint stress, but not by forced swimming. IL-22 was not affected significantly by either stress condition. Alterations in the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-? may indicate a pathophysiological pathway from acute and chronic stress to the development of depression. Changes in IL-4 and IL-10 may link acute and chronic stress to autoimmune disorders, allergies or cancer. The reported changes in IFN-? could provide an explanation for the higher susceptibility to infection seen in life periods associated with sustained levels of stress.
Astrocytes operate in close spatial relationship to other cells including neurons. Structural interaction is controlled by a dynamic interplay between actin-based cell motility and contact formation via cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesions. A central player in the control of cell adhesion is the cytoskeletal adaptor protein Vinculin. Incorporation of Vinculin affects mechanical properties and turnover of cell adhesion sites. To study the in vivo function of Vinculin in astrocytes, a mouse line with astrocyte specific and inducible deletion of vinculin was generated. Deletion of vinculin decreased the expression of the glial acidic fibrillary protein (GFAP) in Bergmann glial cells in the cerebellum. In addition, localization of GFAP to Bergmann glial endfeet was disturbed, indicating a role for vinculin in controlling its expression and localization. In contrast, vimentin expression, morphology, activation state and polarity of the targeted cells as well as the localization of the extracellular matrix protein laminin was not compromised. Furthermore, stab wound lesions were performed in the cerebellar cortex. In both wildtype and vinculin knockout mice GFAP expression was upregulated in Bergmann glial cells of the lesioned area with no differences observed between genotypes in expression and localization of GFAP. These results propose a selective requirement for vinculin in cellular events related to cell adhesion in vivo. As in vitro data suggested a major role for vinculin in the control of the cytoskeletal connection affecting mechanical stability and cell motility, our data add a note of caution to the extrapolation of in vitro data to in vivo function.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?) have repeatedly been shown to play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of depression. Therefore, we tested the possible antidepressant-like effect of the anti-TNF-? drug etanercept in an animal model of chronic mild stress. Male Wistar rats were assigned to a non-restrained and a restrained protocol for 5 weeks. From beginning of the third week the animals were treated either with Ringer solution daily or with etanercept twice a week (0.3 mg/kg, i.p.) instead of Ringer solution (n = 12 each). As reference, imipramine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered in a third restraint group daily. Naïve non-treated non-restrained rats served as healthy controls (n = 12). In the forced swim test (FST) depression-like behaviour induced by restraint was recorded as enhanced immobile time and reduced climbing activity of the vehicle-treated group in comparison to the naïve and the non-restrained vehicle treated group. The treatment with etanercept significantly reduced the depression-like effects resulting in reduced immobile time in the FST and intensified climbing behaviour (p < 0.01, p < 0.05), both similar to the antidepressive-like effect of imipramine (p < 0.01 both). The repeated restraint induced a loss of body weight gain in the Ringer-treated group which was not reversed, neither by imipramine nor by etanercept. The antidepressant effects of blocking TNF-? using etanercept may be caused by enhancement of serotonergic or noradrenergic neurotransmission or normalization of stress hormone secretion which has to be substantiated in further studies.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) are involved in the regulation of numerous physiological functions. Therefore, GPCR variants may have conferred important selective advantages during periods of human evolution. Indeed, several genomic loci with signatures of recent selection in humans contain GPCR genes among them the X-chromosomally located gene for GPR82. This gene encodes a so-called orphan GPCR with unknown function. To address the functional relevance of GPR82 gene-deficient mice were characterized. GPR82-deficient mice were viable, reproduced normally, and showed no gross anatomical abnormalities. However, GPR82-deficient mice have a reduced body weight and body fat content associated with a lower food intake. Moreover, GPR82-deficient mice showed decreased serum triacylglyceride levels, increased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, most pronounced under Western diet. Because there were no differences in respiratory and metabolic rates between wild-type and GPR82-deficient mice our data suggest that GPR82 function influences food intake and, therefore, energy and body weight balance. GPR82 may represent a thrifty gene most probably representing an advantage during human expansion into new environments.
Purinergic neurotransmission, involving release of ATP as an efferent neurotransmitter was first proposed in 1972. Later, ATP was recognised as a cotransmitter in peripheral nerves and more recently as a cotransmitter with glutamate, noradrenaline, GABA, acetylcholine and dopamine in the CNS. Both ATP, together with some of its enzymatic breakdown products (ADP and adenosine) and uracil nucleotides are now recognised to act via P2X ion channels and P1 and P2Y G protein-coupled receptors, which are widely expressed in the brain. They mediate both fast signalling in neurotransmission and neuromodulation and long-term (trophic) signalling in cell proliferation, differentiation and death. Purinergic signalling is prominent in neurone-glial cell interactions. In this review we discuss first the evidence implicating purinergic signalling in normal behaviour, including learning and memory, sleep and arousal, locomotor activity and exploration, feeding behaviour and mood and motivation. Then we turn to the involvement of P1 and P2 receptors in pathological brain function; firstly in trauma, ischemia and stroke, then in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimers, Parkinsons and Huntingtons, as well as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Finally, the role of purinergic signalling in neuropsychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia), epilepsy, migraine, cognitive impairment and neuropathic pain will be considered.
After ischemia of the CNS, extracellular adenosine 5-triphosphate (ATP) can reach high concentrations due to cell damage and subsequent increase of membrane permeability. ATP may cause cellular degeneration and death, mediated by P2X and P2Y receptors.
Lycorine is the main alkaloid of many Amaryllidaceae and known to cause poisoning with still unknown mechanisms. Longer lasting toxicological core symptoms of nausea and emesis may become a burden for human and animal patients and may result in substantial loss of water and electrolytes. To optimise the only empirical symptomatic antiemetic drug treatment at present, it is important to elucidate the causative involved targets of lycorine-induced emesis. Therefore, in the current study, we have tested the actions of a various antiemetic drugs with selective receptor affinities on lycorine-induced nausea and emesis in vivo in dogs. Beagle dogs were pre-treated in a saline vehicle-controlled crossover and random design with diphenhydramine, maropitant, metoclopramide, ondansetron or scopolamine prior lycorine administration (2 mg/kg subcutaneously). In vivo effects were assessed by a scoring system for nausea and emesis as well as by the number and lag time of emetic events for at least 3 h. Moreover, plasma pharmacokinetic analysis was carried out for ondansetron before and after lycorine injection. The data show that histaminergic (H?), muscarinic and dopaminergic (D?) receptors are presumably not involved in lycorine-induced emetic effects. While ondansetron significantly reduced the number of emetic events, lycorine-induced emesis was completely blocked by maropitant. Only ondansetron also significantly decreased the level of nausea and was able to prolong the lag time until onset of emesis suggesting a preferential participation of 5-HT? receptors in lycorine-induced nausea. Thus, it is the first in vivo report evidencing that predominantly neurokinin-1 (NK?) and to a lesser extent 5-hydroxytryptamine 3 (5-HT?) receptors are involved in lycorine-induced emesis facilitating a target-oriented therapy.
The amygdala, a group of nuclei located in the medial temporal lobe, is a key limbic structure involved in mood regulation, associative learning, and modulation of cognitive functions. Functional neuroanatomical studies suggest that this brain region plays also an important role in the central integration of afferent signals from the peripheral immune system. In the present study, intracerebral electroencephalography and microdialysis were employed to investigate the electrophysiological and neurochemical consequences of systemic immune activation in the amygdala of freely moving rats. Intraperitoneal administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (100 ?g/kg) induced with a latency of about 2 h a significant increase in amygdaloid neuronal activity and a substantial rise in extracellular noradrenaline levels. Activated neurons in the amygdaloid complex, identified by c-Fos immunohistochemistry, were mainly located in the central nucleus and, to a lesser extent, in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. Gene expression analysis in micropunches of the amygdala revealed that endotoxin administration induced a strong time-dependent increase in IL-1?, IL-6, and TNF-? mRNA levels indicating that these cytokines are de novo synthesized in the amygdala in response to peripheral immune activation. The changes in amygdaloid activity were timely related to an increase in anxiety-like behavior and decreased locomotor activity and exploration in the open-field. Taken together, these data give novel insights into different features of the acute amygdaloid response during experimental inflammation and provides further evidence that the amygdala integrates immune-derived information to coordinate behavioral and autonomic responses.
Immune-to-brain communication is essential for an individual to aptly respond to challenging internal and external environments. However, the specificity by which the central nervous system detects or senses peripheral immune challenges is still poorly understood. In contrast to post-mortem c-Fos mapping, we recorded neural activity in vivo in two specific cortico-limbic regions relevant for processing visceral inputs and associating it with other sensory signalling, the amygdala (Am) and the insular cortex (IC). Adult rats were implanted with deep-brain monopolar electrodes and electrical activity was monitored unilaterally before and after administration of two different immunogens, the T-cell-independent antigen lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or the T-cell-dependent antigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). In addition, the neural activity of the same individuals was analysed after single as well as repeated antigen administration, the latter inducing attenuation of the immune response. Body temperature and circulating cytokine levels confirmed the biological activity of the antigens and the success of immunization and desensitization protocols. More importantly, the present data demonstrate that neural activity of the Am and IC is not only specific for the type of immune challenge (LPS versus SEB) but seems to be also sensitive to the different immune state (naive versus desensitization). This indicates that the forebrain expresses specific patterns of electrical activity related to the type of peripheral immune activation as well as to the intensity of the stimulation, substantiating associative learning paradigms employing antigens as unconditioned stimuli. Overall, our data support the view of an intensive immune-to-brain communication, which may have evolved to achieve the complex energetic balance necessary for mounting effective immunity and improved individual adaptability by cognitive functions.
Ingestions of plant material from Amaryllidaceae, especially the bulbs of daffodils, are known to be toxic, representing a persistent cause of poisoning in human and animals. Empiric data from case reports suggested, that the alkaloid lycorine could be the toxic constituent of the multi-component mixture responsible for symptoms like nausea and emesis. Systematic studies of the in vivo effects of the amaryllidaceaeous-type alkaloids are not available. Therefore, in an open, prospective, randomized and controlled trial we studied the dose-effect relationship of lycorine-induced nausea and emesis and the toxicokinetics of lycorine in beagle dogs. Subcutaneously administered lycorine-induced nausea and emesis starting at 0.5 mg/kg body weight reaching statistical significance at 1.0 mg/kg. The maximum emetic dose of lycorine (ED(100)) was 2 mg/kg body weight. There was a correlation between dose and nausea score as well as between dose and number of the induced emetic events. Nausea and emesis were short-lasting and occurred not later than 2.5 h post dose. Lycorine showed linear plasma kinetics with a mean elimination half-life of 0.67 and 0.3 h after single s.c. and i.v. administration, compatible with the clinical course of nausea and emesis. The mean oral bioavailability was calculated to be about 40%. Biochemical and haematological parameters of safety showed no pathological signs. The results provide evidence that lycorine can be considered as a main, if not the crucial constituent responsible for nausea and emesis in human and animals in poisoning due to ingestion of plant material of the Amaryllidaceae.
ATP is an important neuronal and astroglial signaling molecule in the brain. In the present study, brain slices were prepared from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of Wistar rats and 2 lines of mice. P2X? receptor immunoreactivity was colocalized with astro- and microglial but not neuronal markers. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings showed that, in astroglial cells, dibenzoyl-ATP (BzATP) and ATP caused inward currents, near the resting membrane potential. The inactivity of ?,?-methylene ATP, as well as the potency increases of BzATP and ATP in a low divalent cation (X²(+))-containing superfusion medium suggested the involvement of P2X? receptors. This idea was corroborated by the inhibition of these current responses by PPADS, Brilliant Blue G, A 438079, and calmidazolium. Ivermectin, trinitrophenyl-adenosine-5-triphosphate, and cyclopentyl-dipropylxanthine did not alter the agonist effects. The reversal potential of BzATP was near 0 mV, indicating the opening of cationic receptor channels. In a low X²(+) superfusion medium, ATP-induced current responses in PFC astroglial cells of wild-type mice but not of the P2X? knockouts. Hence, cortical astroglia of rats and mice possess functional P2X? receptors. These receptors may participate in necrotic/apoptotic or proliferative reactions after stimulation by large quantities of ATP released by central nervous system injury.
Long-term depression (LTD) is a form of synaptic plasticity that may contribute to information storage in the central nervous system. Here we report that LTD can be elicited in layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the rat prefrontal cortex by pairing low frequency stimulation with a modest postsynaptic depolarization. The induction of LTD required the activation of both metabotropic glutamate receptors of the mGlu1 subtype and voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) channels (VSCCs) of the T/R, P/Q and N types, leading to the stimulation of intracellular inositol trisphosphate (IP3) receptors by IP3 and Ca(2+). The subsequent release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores activated the protein phosphatase cascade involving calcineurin and protein phosphatase 1. The activation of purinergic P2Y(1) receptors blocked LTD. This effect was prevented by P2Y(1) receptor antagonists and was absent in mice lacking P2Y(1) but not P2Y(2) receptors. We also found that activation of P2Y(1) receptors inhibits Ca(2+) transients via VSCCs in the apical dendrites and spines of pyramidal neurons. In addition, we show that the release of ATP under hypoxia is able to inhibit LTD by acting on postsynaptic P2Y(1) receptors. In conclusion, these data suggest that the reduction of Ca(2+) influx via VSCCs caused by the activation of P2Y(1) receptors by ATP is the possible mechanism for the inhibition of LTD in prefrontal cortex.
Intense neuronal activity in the sensory retina is associated with a volume increase of neuronal cells (Uckermann et al., J. Neurosci. 2004, 24:10149) and a decrease in the osmolarity of the extracellular space fluid (Dmitriev et al., Vis. Neurosci. 1999, 16:1157). Here, we show the existence of an endogenous purinergic mechanism that prevents hypoosmotic swelling of retinal glial (Müller) cells in mice. In contrast to the cells from wild-type mice, hypoosmotic stress induced rapid swelling of glial cell somata in retinal slices from mice deficient in P2Y(1), adenosine A(1) receptors, or ecto-5-nucleotidase (CD73). Consistently, glial cell bodies in retinal slices from wild-type mice displayed osmotic swelling when P2Y(1) or A(1) receptors, or CD73, were pharmacologically blocked. Exogenous ATP, UTP, and UDP inhibited glial swelling in retinal slices, while the swelling of isolated glial cells was prevented by ATP but not by UTP or UDP, suggesting that uracil nucleotides indirectly regulate the glial cell volume via activation of neuronal P2Y(4/6) and neuron-to-glia signaling. It is suggested that autocrine/paracrine activation of purinergic receptors and enzymes is crucially involved in the regulation of the glial cell volume.
Attentional and sensorimotor gating deficits in human depression are observed as residual symptoms irrespective of antidepressant treatment. Clinical studies point to a benefit of modafinil in depression. No data are available on modafinil effects in depression-like animal models.
Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome enables monocytes and macrophages to release high levels of interleukin-1? during inflammatory responses. Concentrations of extracellular calcium can increase at sites of infection, inflammation or cell activation. Here we show that increased extracellular calcium activates the NLRP3 inflammasome via stimulation of G protein-coupled calcium sensing receptors. Activation is mediated by signalling through the calcium-sensing receptor and GPRC6A via the phosphatidyl inositol/Ca(2+) pathway. The resulting increase in the intracellular calcium concentration triggers inflammasome assembly and Caspase-1 activation. We identified necrotic cells as one source for excess extracellular calcium triggering this activation. In vivo, increased calcium concentrations can amplify the inflammatory response in the mouse model of carrageenan-induced footpad swelling, and this effect was inhibited in GPRC6A(-/-) mice. Our results demonstrate that G-protein-coupled receptors can activate the inflammasome, and indicate that increased extracellular calcium has a role as a danger signal and amplifier of inflammation.
Activated immune cells produce soluble mediators that not only coordinate local and systemic immune responses but also act on the brain to initiate behavioral, neuroendocrine and metabolic adaptations. Earlier studies have shown that the amygdala, a group of nuclei located in the medial temporal lobe, is engaged in the central processing of afferent signals from the peripheral immune system. Here, we compared amygdaloid responses to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), two prototypic bacterial products that elicit distinct immune responses. Intraperitoneal administration of LPS (0.1 mg/kg) or SEB (1 mg/kg) in adult rats induced substantial increases in amygdaloid neuronal activity as measured by intracerebral electroencephalography and c-fos gene expression. Amygdaloid neuronal activation was accompanied by an increase in anxiety-related behavior in the elevated plus-maze test. However, only treatment with LPS, but not SEB, enhanced amygdaloid IL-1? and TNF-? mRNA expression. This supports the view of the immune system as a sensory organ that recognizes invading pathogens and rapidly relays this information to the brain, independent of the nature of the immune response induced. The observation that neuronal and behavioral responses to peripheral immune challenges are not necessarily accompanied by increased brain cytokine expression suggests that cytokines are not the only factors driving sickness-related responses in the CNS.
Like other physiological responses, immune functions are the subject of behavioural conditioning. Conditioned immunosuppression can be induced by contingently pairing a novel taste with an injection of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine A (CsA) in an associative learning paradigm. This learned immunosuppression is centrally mediated by the insular cortex and the amygdala. However, the afferent mechanisms by which the brain detects CsA are not understood. In this study we analysed whether CsA is sensed via the chemosensitive vagus nerve or whether CsA directly acts on the brain. Our experiments revealed that a single peripheral administration of CsA increases neuronal activity in the insular cortex and the amygdala as evident from increased electric activity, c-Fos expression and amygdaloid noradrenaline release. However, this increased neuronal activity was not affected by prior vagal deafferentation but rather seems to partially be induced by direct action of CsA on cortico-amygdaloid structures and the chemosensitive brainstem regions area postrema and nucleus of the solitary tract. Together, these data indicate that CsA as an unconditioned stimulus may directly act on the brain by a still unknown transduction mechanism.
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