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Corticosteroids reverse cytokine-induced block of survival and differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells from rats

Author(s): Mann Stefan | Versmold Beatrix | Marx Romy | Stahlhofen Sabine | Dietzel Irmgard | Heumann Rolf | Berger Richard

Journal: Journal of Neuroinflammation
ISSN 1742-2094

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 39;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a frequent complication of preterm delivery. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) released from astrocytes and microglia activated by infection or ischemia have previously been shown to impair survival and maturation of oligodendrocyte progenitors and could thus be considered as potential factors contributing to the generation of this disease. The first goal of the present study was to investigate whether exposure of oligodendrocyte precursors to these cytokines arrests the maturation of ion currents in parallel to its effects on myelin proteins and morphological maturation. Secondly, in the search for agents, that can protect differentiating oligodendrocyte precursor cells from cytokine-induced damage we investigated effects of coapplications of corticosteroids with proinflammatory cytokines on the subsequent survival and differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Methods To exclude influences from factors released from other cell types purified cultures of oligodendrocyte precursors were exposed to cytokines and/or steroids and allowed to differentiate for further 6 days in culture. Changes in membrane surface were investigated with capacitance recordings and Scanning Ion Conductance Microscopy. Na+- and K+- currents were investigated using whole cell patch clamp recordings. The expression of myelin specific proteins was investigated using western blots and the precursor cells were identified using immunostaining with A2B5 antibodies. Results Surviving IFN-γ and TNF-α treated cells continued to maintain voltage-activated Na+- and K+ currents characteristic for the immature cells after 6 days in differentiation medium. Corticosterone, dihydrocorticosterone and, most prominently dexamethasone, counteracted the deleterious effects of IFN-γ and TNF-α on cell survival, A2B5-immunostaining and expression of myelin basic protein. The most potent corticosteroid tested, dexamethasone, was shown to counteract cytokine effects on membrane surface extension and capacitance. Furthermore, coapplication of dexamethasone blocked the cytokine-induced downregulation of the inwardly rectifying potassium current in 80% of the precursor cells and restored the cytokine-blocked down-regulation of the voltage activated Na+- and K+ currents during subsequent differentiation. Conclusion Our results show that treatment of oligodendrocyte precursors with the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IFN-γ block the differentiation of oligodendrocyte precursors at the level of the differentiation of the voltage-gated ion currents. Co-treatment with corticosteroids at the time of cytokine application restores to a considerable extent survival and differentiation of oligodendrocytes at the level of morphological, myelin protein as well as ion current maturation suggesting the option for a functional restoration of cytokine-damaged immature oligodendrocytes.
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