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Loss of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in microglia of the developing brain drives pro-inflammatory activation leading to white matter injury

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Item Type:Preprint
Title:Loss of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in microglia of the developing brain drives pro-inflammatory activation leading to white matter injury
Creators Name:Van Steenwinckel, J., Schang, A.L., Krishnan, M.L., Degos, V., Delahaye-Duriez, A., Bokobza, C., Verdonk, F., Montane, A., Sigaut, S., Hennebert, O., Lebon, S., Schwendimann, L., Le Charpentier, T., Hassan-Abdi, R., Ball, G., Aljabar, P., Saxena, A., Holloway, R.K., Birchmeier, W., Miron, V., Rowitch, D., Chretien, F., Leconte, C., Besson, V.C., Petretto, E.G., Edwards, A.D., Hagberg, H., Soussi-Yanicostas, N., Fleiss, B. and Gressens, P.
Abstract:Microglia-mediated neuroinflammation is key in numerous brain diseases including encephalopathy of the preterm born infant. Microglia of the still-developing brain have unique properties but little is known of how they regulate their inflammatory activation. This is important information as every year 9 million preterm born infants acquire persisting neurological injuries associated with encephalopathy and we lack strategies to prevent and treat these injuries. Our study of activation state regulators in immature brain microglia found a robust down-regulation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway receptors, ligands and intracellular signalling members in pro-inflammatory microglia. We undertook our studies initially in a mouse model of microglia-mediated encephalopathy including the clinical hallmarks of oligodendrocyte injury and hypomyelination. We purified microglia from this model and applied a genome-wide transcriptomics analysis validated with quantitative profiling. We then verified that down-regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling cascade is sufficient and necessary to drive microglia into an oligodendrocyte-damaging phenotype using multiple pharmacological and genetic approaches in vitro and in vivo in mice and in humans and zebrafish. We also demonstrated that genomic variance in the WNT/β-catenin pathway is associated with the anatomical connectivity phenotype of the human preterm born infant. This integrated analysis of genomics and connectivity, as a surrogate for oligodendrocyte function/myelination, is agnostic to cell type. However, this data indicates that the WNT pathway is relevant to human brain injury and specifically that WNT variants may be useful clinically for injury stratification and prognosis. Finally, we performed a translational experiment using a BBB penetrant microglia-specific targeting 3DNA nanocarrier to deliver a Wnt agonist specifically and directly to microglia in vivo. Increasing the activity of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway specifically in microglia in our model of microglia-mediated encephalopathy was able to reduce microglial pro-inflammatory activation, prevent the typical hypomyelination and also prevent the long-term memory deficit associated with this hypomyelination. In summary, the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway regulates microglial activation and up-regulation of this pathway could be a viable neurotherapeutic strategy.
Keywords:Neuroprotection, Nanoparticle, Neuroinflammation, Neonatal Encephalopathy, Animal Model, Innate Immunity, Perinatal, Medicine, Neurotherapeutic
Publisher:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Article Number:334359
Date:31 May 2018
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1101/334359

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