Amplification and propagation of interleukin-1β signaling by murine brain endothelial and glial cells

Stephanie Krasnow, J. Gabriel Knoll, Santhosh Chakkaramakkil Verghese, Peter R. Levasseur, Daniel Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Background: During acute infections and chronic illnesses, the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) acts within the brain to elicit metabolic derangements and sickness behaviors. It is unknown which cells in the brain are the proximal targets for IL-1β with respect to the generation of these illness responses. We performed a series of in vitro experiments to (1) investigate which brain cell populations exhibit inflammatory responses to IL-1β and (2) examine the interactions between different IL-1β-responsive cell types in various co-culture combinations. Methods: We treated primary cultures of murine brain microvessel endothelial cells (BMEC), astrocytes, and microglia with PBS or IL-1β, and then performed qPCR to measure inflammatory gene expression or immunocytochemistry to evaluate nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-ΚB) activation. To evaluate whether astrocytes and/or BMEC propagate inflammatory signals to microglia, we exposed microglia to astrocyte-conditioned media and co-cultured endothelial cells and glia in transwells. Treatment groups were compared by Student's t tests or by ANOVA followed by Bonferroni-corrected t tests. Results: IL-1β increased inflammatory gene expression and NF-ΚB activation in primary murine-mixed glia, enriched astrocyte, and BMEC cultures. Although IL-1β elicited minimal changes in inflammatory gene expression and did not induce the nuclear translocation of NF-ΚB in isolated microglia, these cells were more robustly activated by IL-1β when co-cultured with astrocytes and/or BMEC. We observed a polarized endothelial response to IL-1β, because the application of IL-1β to the abluminal endothelial surface produced a more complex microglial inflammatory response than that which occurred following luminal IL-1β exposure. Conclusions: Inflammatory signals are detected, amplified, and propagated through the CNS via a sequential and reverberating signaling cascade involving communication between brain endothelial cells and glia. We propose that the brain's innate immune response differs depending upon which side of the blood-brain barrier the inflammatory stimulus arises, thus allowing the brain to respond differently to central vs. peripheral inflammatory insults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017



  • Astrocytes
  • Cell culture
  • Cytokines
  • Endothelium
  • Interleukin-1β
  • Microglia
  • NF-ΚB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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