Cellular and molecular neurobiology

CD40 Negatively Regulates ATP-TLR4-Activated Inflammasome in Microglia.

PMID 26961545


During acute brain injury and/or sterile inflammation, release of danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) activates pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). Microglial toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 activated by DAMPs potentiates neuroinflammation through inflammasome-induced IL-1β and pathogenic Th17 polarization which critically influences brain injury. TLR4 activation accompanies increased CD40, a cognate costimulatory molecule, involved in microglia-mediated immune responses in the brain. During brain injury, excessive release of extracellular ATP (DAMPs) is involved in promoting the damage. However, the regulatory role of CD40 in microglia during ATP-TLR4-mediated inflammasome activation has never been explored. We report that CD40, in the absence of ATP, synergizes TLR4-induced proinflammatory cytokines but not IL-1β, suggesting that the response is independent of inflammasome. The presence of ATP during TLR4 activation leads to NLRP3 inflammasome activation and caspase-1-mediated IL-1β secretion which was inhibited during CD40 activation, accompanied with inhibition of ERK1/2 and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and elevation in p38 MAPK phosphorylation. Experiments using selective inhibitors prove indispensability of ERK 1/2 and ROS for inflammasome activation. The ATP-TLR4-primed macrophages polarize the immune response toward pathogenic Th17 cells, whereas CD40 activation mediates Th1 response. Exogenous supplementation of IFN-γ (a Th1 cytokine and CD40 inducer) results in decreased IL-1β, suggesting possible feedback loop mechanism of inflammasome inhibition, whereby IFN-γ-mediated increase in CD40 expression and activation suppress neurotoxic inflammasome activation required for Th17 response. Collectively, the findings indicate that CD40 is a novel negative regulator of ATP-TLR4-mediated inflammasome activation in microglia, thus providing a checkpoint to regulate excessive inflammasome activation and Th17 response during DAMP-mediated brain injury.