Inflammation leads to distinct populations of extracellular vesicles from microglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Activated microglia play an essential role in inflammatory responses elicited in the central nervous system (CNS). Microglia-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) are suggested to be involved in propagation of inflammatory signals and in the modulation of cell-to-cell communication. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the regulation of EVs and how this in turn facilitates the communication between cells in the brain. Here, we characterized microglial EVs under inflammatory conditions and investigated the effects of inflammation on the EV size, quantity, and protein content.
We have utilized western blot, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), and mass spectrometry to characterize EVs and examine the alterations of secreted EVs from a microglial cell line (BV2) following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor (etanercept) treatments, or either alone. The inflammatory responses were measured with multiplex cytokine ELISA and western blot. We also subjected TNF knockout mice to experimental stroke (permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion) and validated the effect of TNF inhibition on EV release.
Our analysis of EVs originating from activated BV2 microglia revealed a significant increase in the intravesicular levels of TNF and interleukin (IL)-6. We also observed that the number of EVs released was reduced both in vitro and in vivo when inflammation was inhibited via the TNF pathway. Finally, via mass spectrometry, we identified 49 unique proteins in EVs released from LPS-activated microglia compared to control EVs (58 proteins in EVs released from LPS-activated microglia and 37 from control EVs). According to Gene Ontology (GO) analysis, we found a large increase of proteins related to translation and transcription in EVs from LPS. Importantly, we showed a distinct profile of proteins found in EVs released from LPS treated cells compared to control.
We demonstrate altered EV production in BV2 microglial cells and altered cytokine levels and protein composition carried by EVs in response to LPS challenge. Our findings provide new insights into the potential roles of EVs that could be related to the pathogenesis in neuroinflammatory diseases.


External organisations
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Odense University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurology


  • Microglia, Extracellular vesicles, Neuroinflammation, TNF
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 28
Publication categoryResearch