BACKGROUND: Astrocytes have critical roles in the human CNS in health and disease. They provide trophic support to neurons and are innate-immune cells with keys roles during states-of-inflammation. In addition, they have integral functions associated with maintaining the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.<br /><br />METHODS: We have used cytometric bead arrays and xCELLigence technology to monitor the to monitor the inflammatory response profiles and astrocyte compromise in real-time under various inflammatory conditions. Responses were compared to a variety of inflammatory cytokines known to be released in the CNS during neuroinflammation. Astrocyte compromise measured by xCELLigence was confirmed using ATP measurements, cleaved caspase 3 expression, assessment of nuclear morphology and cell death.<br /><br />RESULTS: Inflammatory activation (IL-1β or TNFα) of astrocytes results in the transient production of key inflammatory mediators including IL-6, cell surface adhesion molecules, and various leukocyte chemoattractants. Following this phase, the NT2-astrocytes progressively become compromised, which is indicated by a loss of adhesion, appearance of apoptotic nuclei and reduction in ATP levels, followed by DEATH. The earliest signs of astrocyte compromise were observed between 24-48 h post cytokine treatment. However, significant cell loss was not observed until at least 72 h, where there was also an increase in the expression of cleaved-caspase 3. By 96 hours approximately 50% of the astrocytes were dead, with many of the remaining showing signs of compromise too. Numerous other inflammatory factors were tested, however these effects were only observed with IL-1β or TNFα treatment.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Here we reveal direct sensitivity to mediators of the inflammatory milieu. We highlight the power of xCELLigence technology for revealing the early progressive compromise of the astrocytes, which occurs 24-48 hours prior to substantive cell loss. Death induced by IL-1β or TNFα is relevant clinically as these two cytokines are produced by various peripheral tissues and by resident brain cells.
Van Kralingen, C., Kho, D. T., Costa, J., Angel, C. E., & Graham, E. S. (2013). Exposure to inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNFα induces compromise and death of astrocytes; implications for chronic neuroinflammation. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084269