MAPK signaling determines lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-induced inflammation in microglia

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Background: In the extracellular environment, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) species are generated via autotaxin (ATX)-mediated hydrolysis of lysophospholipid precursors. Members of the LPA family are potent lipid mediators transmitting signals via six different G protein-coupled LPA receptors (LPAR1-6). The LPA signaling axis is indispensable for brain development and function of the nervous system; however, during damage of the central nervous system, LPA levels can increase and aberrant signaling events counteract brain function. Here, we investigated regulation of the ATX/LPA/LPAR axis in response to lipopolysaccharide-induced systemic inflammation in mice and potential neurotoxic polarization programs in LPA-activated primary murine microglia. Methods: In vivo, LPAR1-6 expression was established by qPCR in whole murine brain homogenates and in FACS-sorted microglia. ELISAs were used to quantitate LPA concentrations in the brain and cyto-/chemokine secretion from primary microglia in vitro. Transcription factor phosphorylation was analyzed by immunoblotting, and plasma membrane markers were analyzed by flow cytometry. We used MAPK inhibitors to study signal integration by the JNK, p38, and ERK1/2 branches in response to LPA-mediated activation of primary microglia. Results: Under acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, we observed a significant increase in LPA concentrations and differential regulation of LPAR, ATX (encoded by ENPP2), and cytosolic phospholipase A2 (encoded by PLA2G4A) gene expression in the brain and FACS-sorted microglia. During pathway analyses in vitro, the use of specific MAPK antagonists (SP600125, SB203580, and PD98059) revealed that JNK and p38 inhibition most efficiently attenuated LPA-induced phosphorylation of proinflammatory transcription factors (STAT1 and-3, p65, and c-Jun) and secretion of IL-6 and TNFα. All three inhibitors decreased LPA-mediated secretion of IL-1β, CXCL10, CXCL2, and CCL5. The plasma membrane marker CD40 was solely inhibited by SP600125 while all three inhibitors affected expression of CD86 and CD206. All MAPK antagonists reduced intracellular COX-2 and Arg1 as well as ROS and NO formation, and neurotoxicity of microglia-conditioned media. Conclusion: In the present study, we show that systemic inflammation induces aberrant ATX/LPA/LPAR homeostasis in the murine brain. LPA-mediated polarization of primary microglia via MAPK-dependent pathways induces features reminiscent of a neurotoxic phenotype.




Plastira, I., Bernhart, E., Joshi, L., Koyani, C. N., Strohmaier, H., Reicher, H., … Sattler, W. (2020). MAPK signaling determines lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-induced inflammation in microglia. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 17(1).

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