UNIT 12.19 Methods to Assess Neuroinflammation

  1. Florianne Monnet-Tschudi1,2,
  2. Antoinette Defaux1,2,
  3. Olivier Braissant3,
  4. Laurène Cagnon3,
  5. Marie-Gabrielle Zurich1,2

Published Online: 1 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/0471140856.tx1219s50

Current Protocols in Toxicology

Current Protocols in Toxicology

How to Cite

Monnet-Tschudi, F., Defaux, A., Braissant, O., Cagnon, L. and Zurich, M.-G. 2011. Methods to Assess Neuroinflammation. Current Protocols in Toxicology. 50:12.19:12.19.1–12.19.20.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

  2. 2

    Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT), Lausanne, Switzerland

  3. 3

    Clinical Chemistry Laboratory, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2011
  2. Published Print: NOV 2011


Neuroinflammation is observed in many brain pathologies: in neurodegenerative diseases and multiple sclerosis as well as in chemically induced lesions. It is characterized by the reactivity of microglial cells and astrocytes, activation of inducible NO-synthase (i-NOS), and increased expression and/or release of cytokines and chemokines. Clearly, cell-to-cell signaling between the different brain cell types plays an important role in the initiation and propagation of neuroinflammation, but despite the growing list of known molecular actors, the underlying pathways and the sequence of events remain to be fully elucidated. The present chapter presents an example of how to assess neuroinflammation in complex brain tissues, using aggregating brain cell cultures as an in vitro model. This three-dimensional cell culture system provides optimal cell-to-cell interactions crucial for histotypic cellular maturation and control of neuroinflammatory processes. The techniques described here comprise immunocytochemistry to assess the reactivity of microglia and astrocytes and the expression of cytokines; quantitative RT-PCR to measure the mRNA expression of cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-1ra, TGF-β, IL-15, IFN-γ), chemokines (ccl5, cxcl1, cxcl2), and i-NOS; and immunoblotting to assess MAP kinase pathway activation (phosphorylation of p38 and p44/42 MAP kinases). Curr. Protoc. Toxicol. 50:12.19.1-12.19.20. © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • neuroinflammation;
  • microglia;
  • astrocyte;
  • cytokine;
  • chemokine