Dysregulation of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a hallmark feature of numerous neurologic disorders as diverse as multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy, viral hemorrhagic fevers, cerebral malaria, and acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis. CD8 T cells are one immune cell type that have been implicated in promoting vascular permeability in these conditions. Our laboratory has created a murine model of CD8 T cell-mediated CNS vascular permeability using a variation of the Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus system traditionally used to study multiple sclerosis. Previously, we demonstrated that CD8 T cells have the capacity to initiate astrocyte activation, cerebral endothelial cell tight junction protein alterations and CNS vascular permeability through a perforin-dependent process. To address the downstream mechanism by which CD8 T cells promote BBB dysregulation, in this study, we assess the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in this model. We demonstrate that neuronal expression of VEGF is significantly upregulated prior to, and coinciding with, CNS vascular permeability. Phosphorylation of fetal liver kinase-1 is significantly increased early in this process indicating activation of this receptor. Specific inhibition of neuropilin-1 significantly reduced CNS vascular permeability and fetal liver kinase-1 activation, and preserved levels of the cerebral endothelial cell tight junction protein occludin. Our data demonstrate that CD8 T cells initiate neuronal expression of VEGF in the CNS under neuroinflammatory conditions, and that VEGF may be a viable therapeutic target in neurologic disease characterized by inflammation-induced BBB disruption.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy