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Microglial glutathione and glutamate: regulation mechanisms

Fry, V.A.H.; (2009) Microglial glutathione and glutamate: regulation mechanisms. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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Microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), are important in the protection of the CNS, but may be implicated in the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory disease. Upon activation, microglia produce reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; intracellular antioxidants are therefore likely to be important in their self-defence. Here, it was confirmed that cultured microglia contain high levels of glutathione, the predominant intracellular antioxidant in mammalian cells. The activation of microglia with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or LPS + interferon-gamma was shown to affect their glutathione levels. GSH levels in primary microglia and those of the BV-2 cell line increased upon activation, whilst levels in N9 microglial cells decreased. Microglial glutathione synthesis is dependent upon cystine uptake via the xc- transporter, which exchanges cystine and glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter whose extracellular concentration is tightly regulated by excitatory amino acid transporters, as high levels cause toxicity to neurones and other CNS cell types through overstimulation of glutamate receptors or by causing reversal of xc- transporters. Following exposure to LPS, increased extracellular glutamate and increased levels of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for xCT, the specific subunit of xc-, were observed in BV-2 and primary microglial cells, suggesting upregulated GSH synthesis. An activation-induced decrease in N9 GSH levels suggests that this cell line is more susceptible to oxidative damage, and may be less able to upregulate GSH synthesis. Albumin, to which microglia may be exposed following blood-brain barrier damage, increased iNOS expression, glutamate release, xCT mRNA levels and intracellular levels of GSH and ATP in BV-2 and primary microglia. Primary and BV-2 microglial conditioned medium contained low levels of GSH, suggesting that microglia may release GSH. Modulation of microglial metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) may alter microglial activation and neurotoxicity. Here, stimulation of the neuroprotective mGluR5 and group III mGluRs caused a decline in GSH levels in BV-2 and N9 microglia, respectively. In contrast mGluR1 stimulation may increase BV-2 GSH levels. The work presented in this thesis therefore extends current knowledge regarding microglial GSH and its regulation, and contributes to the understanding of microglial neurotoxicity and neuroprotection.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Microglial glutathione and glutamate: regulation mechanisms
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neuroinflammation
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/18703
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