Author(s): Ha GK, Huang Z, Streit WJ, Petitto JM
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Abstract Following facial nerve axotomy in mice, peripheral T cells home to the injured facial motor nucleus (FMN) where they may influence the glial response. Interactions between T cells and microglia, which proliferate in response to axotomy, appear to confer neuroprotection to injured motoneurons. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether T lymphocytes could influence the microglial reaction to motoneuron injury. These experiments tested the hypotheses that (1) C57BL/6 (B6) and 129 mice, inbred strains which have high and low levels of astroglial reactivity in the axotomized FMN, respectively, would also exhibit high and low levels of T cell infiltration, and (2) that these differences would correspond with levels of microglial reactivity and neuronal regeneration. Thus, we compared the response to facial nerve axotomy in B6, 129, and immunodeficient RAG2 knockout (RAG2 KO) mice on these two backgrounds at 14 day post-axotomy for differences in levels of 1) CD3+ T cell infiltration; (2) major histocompatibility complex II (MHC2) expression by microglia; (3) perineuronal microglial phagocytic clusters, an indirect measure of neuronal death; and (4) overall microglial activity as assessed by CD11b expression. To examine the inheritance pattern of the abovementioned neuroimmune measures, we also made assessments in B6x129 F1 generation mice. B6 and 129 mice displayed high and low levels of T cell infiltration to the affected FMN and low and high MHC2 expression, respectively. Levels of microglial activity did not differ between the two strains. In immunodeficient RAG2 KO mice on both backgrounds, the number of MHC2+ microglia did not differ from their immunologically normal background controls. Moreover, deletion of either the RAG2 or RAG1 genes in B6 mice was not associated with increased neuronal death at day 14 post-axotomy, as we had previously found in B6 mice with the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mutation. Contrary to our hypothesis, the paucity of T cells in the affected FMN of the 129 mice was associated with less neuronal death when compared to B6 mice, which showed a robust T cell response. Moreover, the data suggest that parameters of the central and peripheral immune responses to axotomy are independently regulated. Assessments in B6x129 F1 generation mice revealed dominant phenotypes for both T cell infiltration and neurodegeneration, whereas both strains contributed significantly to the phenotype for MHC2 expression. Our findings suggest that (1) T cells do not appear to modify measures of microglial reactivity in the axotomized FMN; and (2) the impact of T cells on injured motoneurons in immunologically intact mice and in immunodeficient mice grafted with T cells by adoptive transfer may be different. Further study is required to understand the role of T cells following motoneuron injury in immunologically intact mice and how the seemingly divergent effects of T cells in intact and immunodeficient mice might provide insight into their role in neuronal injury and repair.
This article was published in J Neuroimmunol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy