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Inflammation and immune-mediated neurobehavioral alterations : a critical role for microglia

Abstract : Recent research on microglia has uncovered a multitude of activities that extends the role of these cells well beyond their traditional function as immune sentinels. The most prominent of these newly described activities is an intricate role in neuronal network remodeling notably upon environmental challenge or during brain development, the disruption of which can result in long lasting consequences relevant to several psychopathologies. We sought, in the current thesis, to identify some of the mechanisms involved. Our initial approach was to target the immune function of microglia, based on our previous findings linking systemic immunogenic challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice with the development of despair-like behavior/depression. Here, we sought to identify immune mediators activated in microglia following a single systemic challenge with LPS (Chapter 2). These studies were conducted in adult mice in which phagocytic microglia were depleted using a single injection of liposomal clodronate in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. LPS challenge significantly upregulated the expression of both pro-inflammatory [interleukin (IL)-1b and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a] and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines compared to saline treated animals. In addition, LPS highly increased the expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an important rate limiting enzyme for metabolizing tryptophan in the brain and an established indicator of the activation of this depression mediating pathway. Clodronate-mediated depletion attenuated all of these effects apart from IL-1b expression which was further exacerbated. Behavioral assessment of the mice demonstrated a significant LPS-induced increase of immobility in the forced swim test (FST), which was prevented by clodronate. This experimental approach provided a snapshot of the role of inflammation in the development of brain dysfunction mediated by microglia. In subsequent studies (chapter 3 & 4), and in order to perform a more comprehensive, longer-term investigation of microglia activity in neurodevelopment, we utilized a prenatal infection model using LPS to activate maternal immunity at a relatively early [Gestational Day (GD)9.5] time point when microglia colonize the fetal brain to assess the impact on microglial population during development and the subsequent behavior of the progeny (Chapter 3). The results demonstrated LPS reduced the percentage of mature microglial population at GD14.5 and GD18.5 representing mid to late gestation. In addition, prenatal LPS had a significant effect on the offspring’s neonatal as well as adult behavior, with a clear divergence along sex lines in adulthood. In the final study (Chapter 4), we sought to investigate the mechanisms underlying the changes we noted in microglial development and the sexually dimorphic behavioral deficits. For this, we focused on the role played by pro-inflammatory cytokines, particularly IL-1b which represents the main effector of microglial activation following infection or injury. Detailed analysis of the expression of IL-1b and other related cytokines (IL-6, TNF-a and IL-10) revealed an increased expression of these mediators in maternal plasma, placenta and fetal brain, 2 and 4 hours after the prenatal LPS treatment. These changes were accompanied with a decreased percentage of mature microglia in the brain of embryos at GD18.5 and of total microglia population at post-natal day (PND)9. In the adult offspring (PND65), we detected an increased density and altered microglial morphology in specific higher-order structures implicated in complex behaviors, as well as altered social preference and memory and increased repetitive actions. [...]
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Chloé Lacabanne. Inflammation and immune-mediated neurobehavioral alterations : a critical role for microglia. Neuroscience. Université de Bordeaux; McGill university (Montréal, Canada), 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018BORD0397⟩. ⟨tel-02064312⟩

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