Patients with chronic inflammation are often associated with the emergence of depression symptoms, while diagnosed depressed patients show increased levels of circulating cytokines. Further studies revealed the activation of the brain immune cell microglia in depressed patients with a greater magnitude in individuals that committed suicide, indicating a crucial role for neuroinflammation in depression brain pathogenesis. Rapid advances in the understanding of microglial and astrocytic neurobiology were obtained in the past 15–20 years. Indeed, recent data reveal that microglia play an important role in managing neuronal cell death, neurogenesis, and synaptic interactions, besides their involvement in immune-response generating cytokines. The communication between microglia and neurons is essential to synchronize these diverse functions with brain activity. Evidence is accumulating that secreted extracellular vesicles (EVs), comprising ectosomes and exosomes with a size ranging from 0.1–1 μm, are key players in intercellular signaling. These EVs may carry specific proteins, mRNAs and microRNAs (miRNAs). Transfer of exosomes to neurons was shown to be mediated by oligodendrocytes, microglia and astrocytes that may either be supportive to neurons, or instead disseminate the disease. Interestingly, several recent reports have identified changes in miRNAs in depressed patients, which target not only crucial pathways associated with synaptic plasticity, learning and memory but also the production of neurotrophic factors and immune cell modulation. In this article, we discuss the role of neuroinflammation in the emergence of depression, namely dynamic alterations in the status of microglia response to stimulation, and how their activation phenotypes may have an etiological role in neurodegeneneration, in particular in depressive-like behavior. We will overview the involvement of miRNAs, exosomes, ectosomes and microglia in regulating critical pathways associated with depression and how they may contribute to other brain disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), which share several neuroinflammatory-associated processes. Specific reference will be made to EVs as potential biomarkers and disease monitoring approaches, focusing on their potentialities as drug delivery vehicles, and on putative therapeutic strategies using autologous exosome-based delivery systems to treat neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a highly specialized system that controls the exchanges between the blood and the central nervous system (CNS). This barrier shields the CNS from toxic substances in the blood and provides nutrients to CNS, thus playing an essential role in the maintenance of homeostasis. The anatomical basis of the BBB is formed by the endothelial cells of brain microvasculature, with elaborated tight and adherens junctions, which together with pericytes, the basement membrane, and astrocytes, as well as neurons, microglia and oligodendrocytes form the neurovascular unit. The interaction between all these components guarantees a proper environment for neural function and a restricted permeability and transport. Pericytes were initially reported by Rouget in 1873 and since then they have been recognized as an important component of the BBB, despite the difficulty of their identification. Diverse functions have been assigned to pericytes, including a role in BBB properties, hemostasis, and angiogenesis, as well as a contractile, immune, and phagocytic function. These cells are also seen like multipotent cells and so with a great potential for therapy. Here, we review the neurovascular unit composition and the interplay between the diverse components, addressing pericytes with a particular detail.
Age-related neurodegenerative diseases have been associated with chronic neuroinflammation and microglia activation. However, cumulative evidence supports that inflammation only occurs at an early stage once microglia change the endogenous characteristics with aging and switch to irresponsive/senescent and dystrophic phenotypes with disease progression. Thus, it will be important to have the means to assess the role of reactive and aged microglia when studying advanced brain neurodegeneration processes and age-associated related disorders. Yet, most studies are done with microglia from neonates since there are no adequate means to isolate degenerating microglia for experimentation. Indeed, only a few studies report microglia isolation from aged animals, using either short-term cultures or high concentrations of mitogens in the medium, which trigger microglia reactivity. The purpose of this study was to develop an experimental process to naturally age microglia after isolation from neonatal mice and to characterize the cultured cells at 2 days in vitro (DIV), 10 DIV, and 16 DIV. We found that 2 DIV (young) microglia had predominant amoeboid morphology and markers of stressed/reactive phenotype. In contrast, 16 DIV (aged) microglia evidenced ramified morphology and increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 activation, as well as reduced MMP-9, glutamate release and nuclear factor kappa-B activation, in parallel with decreased expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 and TLR-4, capacity to migrate and phagocytose. These findings together with the reduced expression of microRNA (miR)-124, and miR-155, decreased autophagy, enhanced senescence associated beta-galactosidase activity and elevated miR-146a expression, are suggestive that 16 DIV cells mainly correspond to irresponsive/senescent microglia. Data indicate that the model represent an opportunity to understand and control microglial aging, as well as to explore strategies to recover microglia surveillance function.
Age-related complications such as neurodegenerative disorders are increasing and remain cureless. The possibility of altering the progression or the development of these multifactorial diseases through diet is an emerging and attractive approach with increasing experimental support. We examined the potential of known bioavailable phenolic sulfates, arising from colonic metabolism of berries, to influence hallmarks of neurodegenerative processes. In silico predictions and in vitro transport studies across blood-brain barrier (BBB) endothelial cells, at circulating concentrations, provided evidence for differential transport, likely related to chemical structure. Moreover, endothelial metabolism of these phenolic sulfates produced a plethora of novel chemical entities with further potential bioactivies. Pre-conditioning with phenolic sulfates improved cellular responses to oxidative, excitotoxicity and inflammatory injuries and this attenuation of neuroinflammation was achieved via modulation of NF-κB pathway. Our results support the hypothesis that these small molecules, derived from dietary (poly)phenols may cross the BBB, reach brain cells, modulate microglia-mediated inflammation and exert neuroprotective effects, with potential for alleviation of neurodegenerative diseases.
Rosmarinic acid is a polyphenolic compound and main constituent of Rosmarinus officinalis and has been shown to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory properties of rosmarinic acid and of an extract of R. officinalis in local inflammation (carrageenin-induced paw oedema model in the rat), and further evaluate the protective effect of rosmarinic acid in rat models of systemic inflammation: liver ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R) and thermal injury models. In the local inflammation model, rosmarinic acid was administered at 10, 25 and 50 mg/kg (p.o.), and the extract was administered at 10 and 25 mg/kg (equivalent doses to rosmarinic acid groups) to male Wistar rats. Administration of rosmarinic acid and extract at the dose of 25 mg/kg reduced paw oedema at 6 hr by over 60%, exhibiting a dose-response effect, suggesting that rosmarinic was the main contributor to the anti-inflammatory effect. In the liver I/R model, rosmarinic acid was administered at 25 mg/kg (i.v.) 30 min. prior to the induction of ischaemia and led to the significant reduction in the serum concentration of transaminases (AST and ALT) and LDH. In the thermal injury model, rosmarinic acid was administered at 25 mg/ kg (i.v.) 5 min. prior to the induction of injury and significantly reduced multi-organ dysfunction markers (liver, kidney, lung) by modulating NF-jB and metalloproteinase-9. For the first time, the anti-inflammatory potential of rosmarinic acid has been identified, as it causes a substantial reduction in inflammation, and we speculate that it might be useful in the pharmacological modulation of injuries associated to inflammation.Rosmarinus officinalis L., popularly named rosemary, has been used in folk medicine with several pharmacological effects being associated to its consumption, including its antiinflammatory effects [1,2], and rosmarinic acid (RA) is one of its main phenolic compounds .Two studies have evaluated the kinetics of rosmarinic acid when administered orally to rats [4,5]. These studies showed that rosmarinic acid was readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract (according to Konishi and Kobayashi , it crosses intestinal epithelium by passive diffusion) and reaches the peak plasma concentration at 0.5 hr post-administration. Metabolites formed are a result of glucuronidation, sulphation and methylation of rosmarinic acid and are then eliminated in the urine. The effect of R. officinalis and rosmarinic acid on metabolizing enzymes was also studied in Wistar rats . This study demonstrated that the extract of R. officinalis was able to induce the enzymes CYP1A1, CYP2B1/2, CYP2E1, glutathione S-transferase and UDP-glucuronosyl transferase, but this effect was not observed when rosmarinic acid was administered alone. The authors have attributed this effect to the presence of flavones and monoterpenes.It has been widely recognized for many years that certain types of inflammatory tissue injury are mediated by reactive oxygen metabolites and that in ad...
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common and most aggressive form of adult motor neuron (MN) degeneration. The cause of the disease is still unknown, but some protein mutations have been linked to the pathological process. Loss of upper and lower MNs results in progressive muscle paralysis and ultimately death due to respiratory failure. Although initially thought to derive from the selective loss of MNs, the pathogenic concept of non-cell-autonomous disease has come to the forefront for the contribution of glial cells in ALS, in particular microglia. Recent studies suggest that microglia may have a protective effect on MN in an early stage. Conversely, activated microglia contribute and enhance MN death by secreting neurotoxic factors, and impaired microglial function at the end-stage may instead accelerate disease progression. However, the nature of microglial–neuronal interactions that lead to MN degeneration remains elusive. We review the contribution of the neurodegenerative network in ALS pathology, with a special focus on each glial cell type from data obtained in the transgenic SOD1G93A rodents, the most widely used model. We further discuss the diverse roles of neuroinflammation and microglia phenotypes in the modulation of ALS pathology. We provide information on the processes associated with dysfunctional cell–cell communication and summarize findings on pathological cross-talk between neurons and astroglia, and neurons and microglia, as well as on the spread of pathogenic factors. We also highlight the relevance of neurovascular disruption and exosome trafficking to ALS pathology. The harmful and beneficial influences of NG2 cells, oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells will be discussed as well. Insights into the complex intercellular perturbations underlying ALS, including target identification, will enhance our efforts to develop effective therapeutic approaches for preventing or reversing symptomatic progression of this devastating disease.
We describe a method for generating primary cultures of human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMVEC). HBMVEC are derived from microvessels isolated from temporal tissue removed during operative treatment of epilepsy. The tissue is mechanically fragmented and size-filtered using polyester meshes. The resulting microvessel fragments are placed onto type-I collagen-coated flasks to allow HBMVEC to migrate and proliferate. The overall process takes under 3 h and does not require specialized equipment or enzymatic processes. HBMVEC are typically cultured for approximately 1 month until confluence. Cultures are highly pure (~97% endothelial cells; ~3% pericytes), reproducible, and display characteristic brain endothelial markers (von Willebrand factor, glucose transporter-1), robust expression of tight and adherens junction proteins, caveolin-1, and efflux protein P-glycoprotein. Monolayers of HBMVEC display characteristic high transendothelial electric resistance and have proven useful in multiple functional studies for in-vitro modeling of the human blood-brain barrier.
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