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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 May 2021 - 7 May 2021

Animal Studies

2021 May 05

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol

Amygdala microglia modify neuronal plasticity via complement C1q/C3-CR3 signaling and contribute to visceral pain in a rat model.


Yuan T, Orock A, Meerveld B G-V
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2021 May 05.
PMID: 33949202.


Stress can trigger symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Previously we demonstrated that chronic psychological stress induced microglial remodeling in the central nucleus of amygdala (CeA), and contributed to the development of visceral hypersensitivity via synaptic engulfment. However, the specific signaling mechanisms that microglia depend upon to recognize target neurons to facilitate visceral pain remain unknown. Here we test the hypothesis that the microglia in the CeA contribute to chronic stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity via complement C1q/C3-CR3 signaling-mediated synaptic remodeling. In male and female Fischer-344 rats, micropellets of corticosterone (CORT) or cholesterol (control) were stereotaxically implanted bilaterally onto the CeA. After 7 days, microglial C1q, complement receptor 3 (CR3) expression and microglia-mediated synaptic engulfment were assessed via RNAscope, quantitative PCR and immunofluorescence. The microglial inhibitor minocycline, CR3 antagonist neutrophil inhibitory factor (NIF) or vehicle were daily infused into the CeA following CORT implantations. Visceral sensitivity was assessed via a visceromotor response (VMR) to graded pressures of isobaric colorectal distension (CRD). Our results suggest that chronic exposure to elevated CORT in the CeA induced visceral hypersensitivity and amygdala microglial morphological remodeling. CORT increased microglial C1q and CR3 expression, and increased microglia-mediated synaptic engulfment. Both groups of animals with minocycline or NIF infusions reversed microglia-mediated synaptic remodeling, and attenuated CORT-induced visceral hypersensitivity. Our findings demonstrate that C1q/C3-CR3 signaling is critical for microglia-mediated synaptic remodeling in the CeA and contributes to CORT-induced visceral hypersensitivity.