A pinboard by
Theresa Sutherland

PhD Candidate , University of Technology Sydney


Injury & Neuro-Inflammatory Differences Between Infants and Adults after Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a complex injury, with a secondary phase that can continue to worsen for a long time after the initial injury. This phase involves the participation a a wide variety of cells and signals, both from within the central nervous system and coming on from outside. These responses are all interlinked and feed off each other. . A SCI results in loss of tissue, varying degrees of functional impairment and exhibits only limited repair which has great effect on patients’ quality of life There is a trend of better recovery from spinal cord injury in younger patients, observed in both humans and animal models. The reasons for this are yet to be discovered. My research has found significant differences in how the same injury presents and progresses between adult and infant rats, from the gross level to the cellular and molecular level. This is visible in the responses of a range of cells, however the most significant differences are seen in the immune and inflammatory response. The adults have a response of a higher magnitude that persists in a very pro-inflammatory nature for a long time. The infant response, on the other hand, is more balanced and of a less destructive magnitude. The neuro-inflammatory response is necessary but it must be controlled and modulated.This could have broad implications in the treatment of SCI and, in repair and regeneration.



Characterization of the early neuroinflammation after spinal cord injury in mice.

Abstract: The occurrence of neuroinflammation after spinal cord injury (SCI) is well established, but its function is debated, with both beneficial and detrimental consequences ascribed. A discriminate of the role of neuroinflammation may be the time period after SCI, and there is evidence to favor early neuroinflammation being undesirable, whereas the later evolving phase may have useful roles. Here, we have focused on the inflammatory response in the first 24 hours of SCI in mice. We found elevation of interleukin (IL)-1beta and other cytokines and chemokines within 15 minutes to 3 hours of injury. The early neuroinflammation in SCI is likely to be CNS-derived and involves microglia, as demonstrated by in situ hybridization for IL-1beta in microglia, by an in vitro model of SCI in which elevation of inflammatory cytokines occurs in the absence of a dynamic source of infiltrating leukocytes, and by the correlation of decreased levels of inflammatory molecules and microglia activity in IL-1beta-null mice. Nonetheless, as there are no specific immunohistochemical markers that clearly differentiate microglia from their peripheral counterparts, macrophages, the latter cannot be definitively excluded as participants in early neuroinflammation in mouse SCI. These results of an instantaneous inflammatory response validate approaches to modulate microglia/macrophage activity to improve recovery from SCI.

Pub.: 16 Mar '07, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Blockade of interleukin-6 signaling inhibits the classic pathway and promotes an alternative pathway of macrophage activation after spinal cord injury in mice.

Abstract: Recent in vivo and in vitro studies in non-neuronal and neuronal tissues have shown that different pathways of macrophage activation result in cells with different properties. Interleukin (IL)-6 triggers the classically activated inflammatory macrophages (M1 phenotype), whereas the alternatively activated macrophages (M2 phenotype) are anti-inflammatory. The objective of this study was to clarify the effects of a temporal blockade of IL-6/IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) engagement, using an anti-mouse IL-6R monoclonal antibody (MR16-1), on macrophage activation and the inflammatory response in the acute phase after spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice.MR16-1 antibodies versus isotype control antibodies or saline alone were administered immediately after thoracic SCI in mice. SC tissue repair was compared between the two groups by Luxol fast blue (LFB) staining for myelination and immunoreactivity for the neuronal markers growth-associated protein (GAP)-43 and neurofilament heavy 200 kDa (NF-H) and for locomotor function. The expression of T helper (Th)1 cytokines (interferon (IFN)-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α) and Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-13) was determined by immunoblot analysis. The presence of M1 (inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)-positive, CD16/32-positive) and M2 (arginase 1-positive, CD206-positive) macrophages was determined by immunohistology. Using flow cytometry, we also quantified IFN-γ and IL-4 levels in neutrophils, microglia, and macrophages, and Mac-2 (macrophage antigen-2) and Mac-3 in M2 macrophages and microglia.LFB-positive spared myelin was increased in the MR16-1-treated group compared with the controls, and this increase correlated with enhanced positivity for GAP-43 or NF-H, and improved locomotor Basso Mouse Scale scores. Immunoblot analysis of the MR16-1-treated samples identified downregulation of Th1 and upregulation of Th2 cytokines. Whereas iNOS-positive, CD16/32-positive M1 macrophages were the predominant phenotype in the injured SC of non-treated control mice, MR16-1 treatment promoted arginase 1-positive, CD206-positive M2 macrophages, with preferential localization of these cells at the injury site. MR16-1 treatment suppressed the number of IFN-γ-positive neutrophils, and increased the number of microglia present and their positivity for IL-4. Among the arginase 1-positive M2 macrophages, MR16-1 treatment increased positivity for Mac-2 and Mac-3, suggestive of increased phagocytic behavior.The results suggest that temporal blockade of IL-6 signaling after SCI abrogates damaging inflammatory activity and promotes functional recovery by promoting the formation of alternatively activated M2 macrophages.

Pub.: 01 Mar '12, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Characterization of phenotype markers and neuronotoxic potential of polarised primary microglia in vitro.

Abstract: Microglia mediate multiple facets of neuroinflammation, including cytotoxicity, repair, regeneration, and immunosuppression due to their ability to acquire diverse activation states, or phenotypes. Modulation of microglial phenotype is an appealing neurotherapeutic strategy but a comprehensive study of classical and more novel microglial phenotypic markers in vitro is lacking. The aim of this study was to outline the temporal expression of a battery of phenotype markers from polarised microglia to generate an in vitro tool for screening the immunomodulatory potential of novel compounds. We characterised expression of thirty-one macrophage/microglial phenotype markers in primary microglia over time (4, 12, 36, and 72 h), using RT-qPCR or multiplex protein assay. Firstly, we selected Interleukin-4 (IL-4) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as the strongest M1-M2 polarising stimuli, from six stimuli tested. At each time point, markers useful to identify that microglia were M1 included iNOS, Cox-2 and IL-6 and a loss of M2a markers. Markers useful for quantifying M2b-immunomodulatory microglia included, increased IL-1RA and SOCS3 and for M2a-repair and regeneration, included increased arginase-1, and a loss of the M1 and M2b markers were discriminatory. Additional markers were regulated at fewer time points, but are still likely important to monitor when assessing the immunomodulatory potential of novel therapies. Further, to facilitate identification of how novel immunomodulatory treatments alter the functional affects of microglia, we characterised how the soluble products from polarised microglia affected the type and rate of neuronal death; M1/2b induced increasing and M2a-induced decreasing neuronal loss. We also assessed any effects of prior activation state, to provide a way to identify how a novel compound may alter phenotype depending on the stage of injury/insult progression. We identified generally that a prior M1/2b reduced the ability of microglia to switch to M2a. Altogether, we have characterised a profile of phenotype markers and a mechanism of assessing functional outcome that we can use as a reference guide for first-line screening of novel immunomodulatory therapies in vitro in the search for viable neuroprotectants.

Pub.: 05 Mar '13, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Different TLR4 expression and microglia/macrophage activation induced by hemorrhage in the rat spinal cord after compressive injury.

Abstract: Hemorrhage is a direct consequence of traumatic injury to the central nervous system and may cause innate immune reactions including cerebral Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 upregulation which usually leads to poor outcome in the traumatic brain injury. In spinal cord injury (SCI), however, how hemorrhage induces innate immune reaction in spinal parenchyma remains unknown. The present study aimed to see whether blood component and/or other factor(s) induce TLR4 and microglia/macrophages involved innate immune reactions in the rat spinal cord after traumatic injury.Using the compressive SCI model of the rat, hemorrhage in the spinal cord was identified by hematoxylin-eosin staining. Microglia/macrophage activation, TLR4 expression, and cell apoptosis were investigated by immunohistochemistry. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB p50 level of the two segments of the cord was detected by western blotting assay. With carbon powder injection, blood origination of the hematoma was explored. The blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) states of the lesion site and the hematoma were compared with immunohistochemistry and tannic acid-ferric chloride staining.Histological observation found blood accumulated in the center of compression lesion site (epicenter) and in the hematoma approximately 1.5 cm away from the epicenter. TLR4 expression, microglia//macrophage activation, and subsequent apoptosis in the area of far-away hematoma were late and weak in comparison to that in epicenter. In addition, TLR4 positive microglia/macrophages appeared to be phagocytotic in the far-away hematoma more obviously than that in the epicenter. Injected carbon powder indicated that accumulated blood of the far-away hematoma originated from the bleeding of the lesion epicenter, and the BSCB around the hematoma was not compromised in the early phase. Accordingly, at 3 days post injury, NF-κB p50 was upregulated based on the similar levels of blood component hemoglobin, and cell apoptosis was obvious in the epicenter but not in the far-away hematoma.These data suggest that besides blood component, BSCB compromise and the extent of tissue injury contribute more to TLR4 and microglia/macrophage responses to the spinal cord hemorrhage. Therefore, the innate immune environment is a necessary consideration for the SCI therapy targeting TLR4 and microglia/macrophages.

Pub.: 11 Sep '13, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Cyclic AMP is a key regulator of M1 to M2a phenotypic conversion of microglia in the presence of Th2 cytokines.

Abstract: Microglia and macrophages play a central role in neuroinflammation. Pro-inflammatory cytokines trigger their conversion to a classically activated (M1) phenotype, sustaining inflammation and producing a cytotoxic environment. Conversely, anti-inflammatory cytokines polarize the cells towards an alternatively activated (M2), tissue reparative phenotype. Elucidation of the signal transduction pathways involved in M1 to M2 phenotypic conversion may provide insight into how the innate immune response can be harnessed during distinct phases of disease or injury to mediate neuroprotection and neurorepair.Microglial cells (cell line and primary) were subjected to combined cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) and IL-4, or either alone, in the presence of pro-inflammatory mediators, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Their effects on the expression of characteristic markers for M1 and M2 microglia were assessed. Similarly, the M1 and M2 phenotypes of microglia and macrophages within the lesion site were then evaluated following a contusive spinal cord injury (SCI) to the thoracic (T8) spinal cord of rats and mice when the agents were administered systemically.It was demonstrated that cyclic AMP functions synergistically with IL-4 to promote M1 to M2 conversion of microglia in culture. The combination of cyclic AMP and IL-4, but neither alone, induced an Arg-1(+)/iNOS(-)cell phenotype with concomitant expression of other M2-specific markers including TG2 and RELM-α. M2-converted microglia showed ameliorated production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IP-10) and reactive oxygen species, with no alteration in phagocytic properties. M2a conversion required protein kinase A (PKA), but not the exchange protein directly activated by cyclic AMP (EPAC). Systemic delivery of cyclic AMP and IL-4 after experimental SCI also promoted a significant M1 to M2a phenotypic change in microglia and macrophage population dynamics in the lesion.Using primary microglia, microglial cell lines, and experimental models of CNS injury, we demonstrate that cyclic AMP levels are a critical determinant in M1-M2 polarization. High levels of cyclic AMP promoted an Arg-1(+) M2a phenotype when microglia were activated with pro-inflammatory stimuli and Th2 cytokines. Th2 cytokines or cyclic AMP independently did not promote these changes. Phenotypic conversion of microglia provides a powerful new therapeutic approach for altering the balance of cytotoxic to reparative microglia in a diversity of neurological diseases and injury.

Pub.: 14 Jan '16, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Acute granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor treatment modulates neuroinflammatory processes and promotes tactile recovery after spinal cord injury.

Abstract: Neuroinflammation is known to play a key role in the prognosis of functional recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). The involvement of microglial and mast cells in early and late stages of inflammation has been receiving increasing attention. This study was aimed at determining the influence of a pro-inflammatory cytokine, the Granulocyte Macrophage-Colony Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF), on microglia and mast cell activation, glial scar formation and functional recovery following SCI. Rats were randomly injected with saline or GM-CSF one hour after a C4-C5 medio-lateral hemisection. To assess functionalimpairment and recovery, the rats were subjected to sensorimotor tasks for one month. Then, responses evoked by forepaw stimulation in the primary somatosensory cortex were recorded. We also quantified the changes in GM-CSF, IL-1β, IL-6 and BDNF levels, the gliosis and lesion volume as well as microglial and mast cell density, and mast cell surface. Our findings show that GM-CSF promotes cortical reactivation and recovery of tactile abilities, whereas it does not influence motor performances. A transient decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines after GM-CSF treatment was also observed, whereas the endogenous GM-CSF level was unchanged. While the beneficial role of GM-CSF in reducing glial scar is confirmed, our findings reveal that neuroinflammatory events mediated by microglial and mast cells as well as the alteration of IL-1β and IL-6 levels are paralleled with an improvement in tactile recovery. These mechanisms could limit the duration and intensity of homeostatic imbalance and promote the plasticity of spared tissues.

Pub.: 10 Mar '17, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Translating mechanisms of neuroprotection, regeneration, and repair to treatment of spinal cord injury.

Abstract: One of the big challenges in neuroscience that remains to be understood is why the central nervous system is not able to regenerate to the extent that the peripheral nervous system does. This is especially problematic after traumatic injuries, like spinal cord injury (SCI), since the lack of regeneration leads to lifelong deficits and paralysis. Treatment of SCI has improved during the last several decades due to standardized protocols for emergency medical response teams and improved medical, surgical, and rehabilitative treatments. However, SCI continues to result in profound impairments for the individual. There are many processes that lead to the pathophysiology of SCI, such as ischemia, vascular disruption, neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, demyelination, and cell death. Current treatments include surgical decompression, hemodynamic control, and methylprednisolone. However, these early treatments are associated with modest functional recovery. Some treatments currently being investigated for use in SCI target neuroprotective (riluzole, minocycline, G-CSF, FGF-2, and polyethylene glycol) or neuroregenerative (chondroitinase ABC, self-assembling peptides, and rho inhibition) strategies, while many cell therapies (embryonic stem cells, neural stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, Schwann cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, and macrophages) have also shown promise. However, since SCI has multiple factors that determine the progress of the injury, a combinatorial therapeutic approach will most likely be required for the most effective treatment of SCI.

Pub.: 19 Apr '15, Pinned: 27 Jul '17