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Keywords:

  • bacteria;
  • cytokines;
  • glia;
  • in vitro;
  • mouse;
  • neurodegeneration

Abstract

Recently, infections have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Apart from the direct effects of pathogens, it can be hypothesized that inflammatory mechanisms, such as the production of pro-inflammatory mediators by resident glia, may result in neurotoxicity. Here, we examined the inflammatory responses in murine microglial cell (MMC) and murine astrocyte cell (MAC) lines following infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn), a pathogen that has recently been associated with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, we determined whether these inflammatory responses are sufficient to cause neuronal cell death in vitro. MMCs and MACs were infected with Cpn. Subsequently, various chemo- and cytokines were determined in the culture supernatant fluid of infected/control cells at different time points post-infection. Significantly higher levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, interleukin (IL)-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-1β were found in supernatant fluids of infected MMCs compared with controls. In contrast, in the supernatant fluid of infected MACs, only monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and IL-6 displayed significantly higher levels compared with controls. Moreover, neurotoxicity was examined up to 72 h after transferring the conditioned supernatant fluid to a neuronal cell layer. No neuronal cell death was observed when supernatant fluids from infected/mock-treated MACs were transferred. However, when neurones were exposed to conditioned supernatant fluid from infected MMCs, a significant increase in cell death was observed compared with mock. Furthermore, adding neutralizing antibodies against IL-6 and TNF-α to that conditioned supernatant fluid prevented neuronal cell death by ∼50%. In conclusion, these data suggest that Cpn infection results in a pro-inflammatory milieu, particularly by activating MMCs, that ultimately results in neurodegeneration with prominent roles for both IL-6 and TNF-α.