Cerebral ischemia induces microvascular pro-inflammatory cytokine expression via the MEK/ERK pathway.

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BACKGROUND: Cerebral ischemia from middle cerebral artery wall (MCA) occlusion results in increased expression of cerebrovascular endothelin and angiotensin receptors and activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, as well as reduced local cerebral blood flow and increased levels of pro-inflammatory mediators in the infarct region. In this study, we hypothesised that inhibition of the cerebrovascular inflammatory reaction with a specific MEK1/2 inhibitor (U0126) to block transcription or a combined receptor blockade would reduce infarct size and improve neurological score. METHODS: Rats were subjected to a 2-hours middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by reperfusion for 48 hours. Two groups of treated animals were studied; (i) one group received intraperitoneal administration of a specific MEK1/2 inhibitor (U0126) starting at 0, 6, or 12 hours after the occlusion, and (ii) a second group received two specific receptor antagonists (a combination of the angiotensin AT1 receptor inhibitor Candesartan and the endothelin ETA receptor antagonist ZD1611), given immediately after occlusion. The middle cerebral arteries, microvessels and brain tissue were harvested; and the expressions of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1ss (IL-1ss), interleukin-6 (IL-6), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and phosphorylated ERK1/2, p38 and JNK were analysed using immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: We observed an infarct volume of 25 +/- 2% of total brain volume, and reduced neurological function 2 days after MCAO followed by 48 hours of recirculation. Immunohistochemistry revealed enhanced expression of TNF-alpha, IL-1ss, IL-6 and iNOS, as well as elevated levels of phosphorylated ERK1/2 in smooth muscle cells of ischemic MCA and in associated intracerebral microvessels. U0126, given intraperitoneal at zero or 6 hours after the ischemic event, but not at 12 hours, reduced the infarct volume (11.7 +/- 2% and 15 +/- 3%, respectively), normalized pERK1/2, and prevented elevation of the expressions of TNF-alpha IL-1ss, IL-6 and iNOS. Combined inhibition of angiotensin AT1 and endothelin ETA receptors decreased the volume of brain damaged (12.3 +/- 3; P < 0.05) but only slightly reduced MCAO-induced enhanced expression of iNOS and cytokines CONCLUSION: The present study shows elevated microvascular expression of TNF-alpha, IL-1ss, IL-6 and iNOS following focal ischemia, and shows that this expression is transcriptionally regulated via the MEK/ERK pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


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