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Aging and disease    2019, Vol. 10 Issue (3) : 611-625     DOI: 10.14336/AD.2018.0707
Orginal Article |
BDNF Alleviates Neuroinflammation in the Hippocampus of Type 1 Diabetic Mice via Blocking the Aberrant HMGB1/RAGE/NF-κB Pathway
Rongrong Han1,2, Zeyue Liu1,2, Nannan Sun1,2, Shu Liu1,2, Lanlan Li1,2, Yan Shen1,2, Jianbo Xiu1,2,*, Qi Xu1,2,*
1State Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, School of Basic Medicine Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China
2Neuroscience center, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
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Diabetes is a systemic disease that can cause brain damage such as synaptic impairments in the hippocampus, which is partly because of neuroinflammation induced by hyperglycemia. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is essential in modulating neuroplasticity. Its role in anti-inflammation in diabetes is largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the effects of BDNF overexpression on reducing neuroinflammation and the underlying mechanism in mice with type 1 diabetes induced by streptozotocin (STZ). Animals were stereotactically microinjected in the hippocampus with recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing BDNF or EGFP. After virus infection, four groups of mice, the EGFP+STZ, BDNF+STZ, EGFP Control and BDNF Control groups, received STZ or vehicle treatment as indicated. Three weeks later brain tissues were collected. We found that BDNF overexpression in the hippocampus significantly rescued STZ-induced decreases in mRNA and protein expression of two synaptic plasticity markers, spinophilin and synaptophysin. More interestingly, BDNF inhibited hyperglycemia-induced microglial activation and reduced elevated levels of inflammatory factors (TNF-α, IL-6). BDNF blocked the increase in HMGB1 levels and specifically, in levels of one of the HMGB1 receptors, RAGE. Downstream of HMGB1/RAGE, the increase in the protein level of phosphorylated NF-κB was also reversed by BDNF in STZ-treated mice. These results show that BDNF overexpression reduces neuroinflammation in the hippocampus of type 1 diabetic mice and suggest that the HMGB1/RAGE/NF-κB signaling pathway may contribute to alleviation of neuroinflammation by BDNF in diabetic mice.

Keywords diabetes      BDNF      neuroinflammation      HMGB1      RAGE     
Corresponding Authors: Xiu Jianbo,Xu Qi   
About author:

These authors contributed equally to this work.

Issue Date: 28 March 2018
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Rongrong Han
Zeyue Liu
Nannan Sun
Shu Liu
Lanlan Li
Yan Shen
Jianbo Xiu
Qi Xu
Cite this article:   
Rongrong Han,Zeyue Liu,Nannan Sun, et al. BDNF Alleviates Neuroinflammation in the Hippocampus of Type 1 Diabetic Mice via Blocking the Aberrant HMGB1/RAGE/NF-κB Pathway[J]. Aging and disease, 2019, 10(3): 611-625.
URL:     OR
Gene namesPrimer sequences
SynaptophysinForward: 5′- TCGTGTTCAAGGAGACAGGC -3′
SpinophilinForward: 5′- AGGGAGGGAGGTCAGCTTAG -3′
Table 1  Primers used in the study.
Figure 1.  BDNF gene transfer in the hippocampus

(A) Schematics of the AAV vector construction. (B) Schematics illustrating virus microinjection. (C) EGFP fluorescence demonstrating the site of virus expression. Scale bars represent 200 μm. (D) Western blot analysis of BDNF expression in the hippocampus after virus injection. (E) Western blot assay of p-TrkB. Values are means ± SEM. n = 6-7 per group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.

Figure 2.  STZ-induced type 1 diabetes in mice

(A) Schematic representation of the study design and treatment schedule. (B) Body weight after STZ treatment. (C) Blood glucose levels after STZ treatment. Values are means ± SEM. n = 10-12 per group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, indicating the comparison between the EGFP Control and EGFP+STZ groups.

Figure 3.  BDNF blocked the hyperglycemia-induced decrease in the expression of spinophilin and synaptophysin of diabetic mice

(A) Real time PCR analysis of spinophilin. (B) Real time PCR analysis of synaptophysin. (C) Western blot assay of spinophilin. (D) Western blot assay of synaptophysin. Values are means ± SEM. n = 6-7 per group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.

Figure 4.  BDNF overexpression suppressed microglial activation and reduced the increased levels of TNF-α and IL-6 in the hippocampus of diabetic mice

(A) Immunofluorescent staining and quantification of the microglial marker Iba-1. (B) ELISA assay of TNF-α. (C) ELISA assay of IL-6. (D) ELISA assay of IL-1β. Values are means ± SEM. n = 6-7 per group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01. Scale bars = 20 μm.

Figure 5.  BDNF suppressed the increased expression of HMGB1 in the hippocampus of diabetic mice

(A) Real time PCR analysis of HMGB1. (B) Western blot assay of HMGB1. (C) Immunofluorescent staining and quantification of HMGB1. The values are expressed as mean ± SEM. n = 6-7 per group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01. Scale bars = 200 μm.

Figure 6.  BDNF inhibited HMGB1-mediated activation of the RAGE/NF-κB signaling pathway in the hippocampus of diabetic mice

(A) Real time PCR analysis of the HMGB1 receptor TLR2. (B) Real time PCR analysis of the HMGB1 receptor TLR4. (C) Real time PCR analysis of the HMGB1 receptor RAGE. (D) Western blot assay of RAGE. (E) Western blot assay of NF-κB p65. (F) Western blot assay of p-NF-κB p65. The values are expressed as means ± SEM. n = 6-7 in each group. * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.

Figure 7.  Schematics illustrating the possible neuroprotective mechanisms of BDNF in the hyperglycemia-induced neuroinflammation

In the hippocampus of the diabetic brain, hyperglycemia leads to microglial activation and increased levels of inflammatory factors, ultimately resulting in synaptic impairments. BDNF can alleviate the hyperglycemia-induced neuroinflammation via specifically inhibiting the aberrant HMGB1/ RAGE/NF-κB signaling pathway.

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