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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Feb 2024 - 23 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 22

Mol Neurobiol


Neuron-Microglia Interaction is Involved in Anti-inflammatory Response by Vagus Nerve Stimulation in the Prefrontal Cortex of Rats Injected with Polyinosinic:Polycytidylic Acid.


Kim KJ, Hwang J, Lee KW, Kim J, Han Y, Namgung U


Injection of polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) into experimental animals induces neuroimmunological responses and thus has been used for the study of neurological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. Here, we investigated the effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on poly(I:C)-induced neuroinflammation and associated behavioral consequences in rats. The microglia in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) displayed the activated form of morphology in poly(I:C)-injected rats and changed to a normal shape after acute VNS (aVNS). Production of phospho-NF-κB, phospho-IκB, IL-1β, and cleaved caspase 3 was elevated by poly(I:C) and downregulated by aVNS. In contrast, phospho-Akt levels were decreased by poly(I:C) and increased by aVNS. Neuronal production of fractalkine (CX3CL1) in the PFC was markedly reduced by poly(I:C), but recovered by aVNS. Fractalkine interaction with its receptor CX3CR1 was highly elevated by VNS. We further demonstrated that the pharmacological blockade of CX3CR1 activity counteracted the production of IL-1β, phospho-Akt, and cleaved form of caspase 3 that was modulated by VNS, suggesting the anti-inflammatory effects of fractalkine-CX3CR1 signaling as a mediator of neuron-microglia interaction. Behavioral assessments of pain and temperature sensations by von Frey and hot/cold plate tests showed significant improvement by chronic VNS (cVNS) and forced swimming and marble burying tests revealed that the depressive-like behaviors caused by poly(I:C) injection were rescued by cVNS. We also found that the recognition memory which was impaired by poly(I:C) administration was improved by cVNS. This study suggests that VNS may play a role in regulating neuroinflammation and somatosensory and cognitive functions in poly(I:C)-injected animals.