The study appears this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Inflammation can be a blessing or a blight. It is a critical part of the body’s immune response that in normal circumstances reduces injury and promotes healing. When it goes awry, however, the inflammatory response can lead to serious physical and mental problems. Inflammation plays a key role in many neurodegenerative diseases and also is implicated in the cognitive and behavioral impairments seen in aging.
The new study looked at luteolin (LOO-tee-OH-lin), a plant flavonoid known to impede the inflammatory response in several types of cells outside the central nervous system. The purpose of the study was to determine if luteolin could also reduce inflammation in the brain, said animal sciences professor and principal investigator Rodney Johnson.
“One of the questions we were interested in is whether something like luteolin, or other bioactive food components, can be used to mitigate age-associated inflammation and therefore improve cognitive function and avoid some of the cognitive deficits that occur in aging,” Johnson said.
The researchers first studied the effect of luteolin on microglia. These brain cells are a key component of the immune defense. When infection occurs anywhere in the body, microglia respond by producing inflammatory cytokines, chemical messengers that act in the brain to orchestrate a whole-body response that helps fight the invading microorganism.
This response is associated with many of the most obvious symptoms of illness: sleepiness, loss of appetite, fever and lethargy, and sometimes a temporary diminishment of learning and memory. Neuroinflammation can also lead some neurons to self-destruct, with potentially disastrous consequences if it goes too far.
Graduate research assistant Saebyeol Jang studied the inflammatory response in microglial cells. She spurred inflammation by exposing the cells to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a component of the cell wall of many common bacteria. Those cells that were also exposed to luteolin showed a significantly diminished inflammatory response. Jang showed that luteolin was shutting down production of a key cytokine in the inflammatory pathway, interleukin-6 (IL-6). The effects of luteolin exposure were dramatic, resulting in as much as a 90 percent drop in IL-6 production in the LPS-treated cells.
“This was just about as potent an inhibition as anything we had seen previously,” Johnson said.
But how was luteolin inhibiting production of IL-6?
Jang began by looking at a class of proteins involved in intracellular signaling, called transcription factors, which bind to specific “promoter” regions on DNA and increase their transcription into RNA and translation into proteins.
Using electromobility shift assays, which measure the binding of transcription factors to DNA promoters, Jang eventually determined that luteolin inhibited IL-6 production by preventing activator protein-1 (AP-1) from binding the IL-6 promoter.
AP-1 is in turn activated by JNK, an upstream protein kinase. Jang found that luteolin inhibited JNK phosphorylation in microglial cell culture. The failure of the JNK to activate the AP-1 transcription factor prevented it from binding to the promoter region on the IL-6 gene and transcription came to a halt.
To see if luteolin might have a similar effect in vivo, the researchers gave mice luteolin-laced drinking water for 21 days before injecting the mice with LPS.
Those mice that were fed luteolin had significantly lower levels of IL-6 in their blood plasma four hours after injection with the LPS. Luteolin also decreased LPS-induced transcription of IL-6 in the hippocampus, a brain region that is critical to spatial learning and memory.
The findings indicate a possible role for luteolin or other bioactive compounds in treating neuroinflammation, Johnson said.
“It might be possible to use flavonoids to inhibit JNK and mitigate inflammatory reactions in the brain,” he said. “Inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 are very well known to inhibit certain types of learning and memory that are under the control of the hippocampus, and the hippocampus is also very vulnerable to the insults of aging,” he said. “If you had the potential to decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain you could potentially limit the cognitive deficits that result.”
Editor’s note: To reach Rodney Johnson, call 217-333-2118; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view or subscribe to the RSS feed for Science News at Illinois, please go to: http://webtools.uiuc.edu/rssManager/608/rss.xml.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy