• C/EBP;
  • IL-13;
  • Microglia;
  • Neuron

In response to aggravation by activated microglia, IL-13 can significantly enhance ER stress induction, apoptosis, and death via reciprocal signaling through CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (C/EBP-α) and C/EBP-beta (C/EBP-β). This reciprocal signaling promotes neuronal survival. Since the induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma/heme oxygenase 1 (PPAR-γ/HO-1) by IL-13 plays a crucial role in the promotion of and protection from activated microglia, respectively; here, we investigated the role of IL-13 in regulating C/EBPs in activated microglia and determined its correlation with neuronal function. The results revealed that IL-13 significantly enhanced C/EBP-α/COX-2 expression and PGE2 production in LPS-treated microglial cells. Paradoxically, IL-13 abolished C/EBP-β/PPAR-γ/HO-1 expression. IL-13 also enhanced ER stress-evoked calpain activation by promoting the association of C/EBP-β and PPAR-γ. SiRNA-C/EBP-α effectively reversed the combined LPS-activated caspase-12 activation and IL-13-induced apoptosis. In contrast, siRNA-C/EBP-β partially increased microglial cell apoptosis. By NeuN immunochemistry and CD11b staining, there was improvement in the loss of CA3 neuronal cells after intrahippocampal injection of IL-13. This suggests that IL-13-enhanced PLA2 activity regulates COX-2/PGE2 expression through C/EBP-α activation. In parallel, ER stress-related calpain downregulates the PPAR-γ/HO-1 pathway via C/EBP-β and leads to aggravated death of activated microglia via IL-13, thereby preventing cerebral inflammation and neuronal injury.