Astrocyte-targeted expression of interleukin-3 and interferon-α causes region-specific changes in metallothionein expression in the brain

Mercedes Giralt, Javier Carrasco, Milena Penkowa, Miguel Angel Morcillo, Jesús Santamaría, Iain L. Campbell, Juan Hidalgo

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Transgenic mice expressing IL-3 and IFN-α under the regulatory control of the GFAP gene promoter (GFAP-IL3 and GFAP-IFNα mice) exhibit a cytokine-specific, late-onset chronic-progressive neurological disorder which resemble many of the features of human diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Aicardi-Goutières syndrome, and some viral encephalopathies including HIV leukoencephalopathy. In this report we show that the metallothionein-I+II (MT-I+II) isoforms were upregulated in the brain of both GFAP-IL3 and GFAP-IFNα mice in accordance with the site and amount of expression of the cytokines. In the GFAP-IL3 mice, in situ hybridization analysis for MT-I RNA and radioimmunoassay results for MT-I+II protein revealed that a significant upregulation was observed in the cerebellum and medulla plus pons at the two ages studied, 1-3 and 6-10 months. Increased MT-I RNA levels occurred in the Purkinje and granular layers of the cerebellum, as well as in its white matter tracts. In contrast to the cerebellum and brain stem, MT-I+II were downregulated by IL-3 in the hippocampus and the remaining brain in the older mice. In situ hybridization for MT-III RNA revealed a modest increase in the cerebellum, which was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. MT-III immunoreactivity was present in cells that were mainly round or amoeboid monocytes/macrophages and in astrocytes. MT-I+II induction was more generalized in the GFAP-IFNα (GIFN12 and GIFN39 lines) mice, with significant increases in the cerebellum, thalamus, hippocampus, and cortex. In the high expressor line GIFN39, MT-III RNA levels were significantly increased in the cerebellum (Purkinje, granular, and molecular layers), thalamus, and hippocampus (CA2/CA3 and especially lacunosum moleculare layers). Reactive astrocytes, activated rod-like microglia, and macrophages, but not the perivenular infiltrating cells, were identified as the cellular sources of the MT-I+II and MT-III proteins. The pattern of expression of the different MT isoforms in these transgenic mice differed substantially, demonstrating unique effects associated with the expression of each cytokine. The results indicate that the MT expression in the CNS is significantly affected by the cytokine-induced inflammatory response and support a major role of these proteins during CNS injury. © 2001 Academic Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-346
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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