BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) of the central nervous system (CNS) is characterized by extensive tissue inflammation, driven by molecules that cleave extracellular matrix such as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3. However, relatively little is known about the regulation of these MMPs in the CNS.
METHODS: Using a cellular model of CNS TB, we stimulated a human microglial cell line (CHME3) with conditioned medium from Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected primary human monocytes (CoMTb). MMP-1 and MMP-3 secretion was detected using ELISAs confirmed with casein zymography or western blotting. Key results of a phospho-array profile that detects a wide range of kinase activity were confirmed with phospho-Western blotting. Chemical inhibition (SB203580) of microglial cells allowed investigation of expression and secretion of MMP-1 and MMP-3. Finally we used promoter reporter assays employing full length and MMP-3 promoter deletion constructs. Student's t-test was used for comparison of continuous variables and multiple intervention experiments were compared by one-way ANOVA with Tukey's correction for multiple pairwise comparisons.
RESULTS: CoMTb up-regulated microglial MMP-1 and MMP-3 secretion in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The phospho-array profiling showed that the major increase in kinase activity due to CoMTb stimulation was in p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK), principally the α and γ subunits. p38 phosphorylation was detected at 15 minutes, with a second peak of activity at 120 minutes. High basal extracellular signal-regulated kinase activity was further increased by CoMTb. Secretion and expression of MMP-1 and MMP-3 were both p38 dependent. CoMTb stimulation of full length and MMP-3 promoter deletion constructs demonstrated up-regulation of activity in the wild type but a suppression site between -2183 and -1612 bp.
CONCLUSIONS: Monocyte-microglial network-dependent MMP-1 and MMP-3 gene expression and secretion are dependent upon p38 MAPK in tuberculosis. p38 is therefore a potential target for adjuvant therapy in CNS TB.
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