Regulation of cytokine gene expression in the central nervous system by glucocorticoids: Mechanisms and functional consequences
Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1997-01-01; 22: S75-S80
The proinflammatory cytokines which are released by activated accessory immune cells during the course of an infection have profound effects on the brain. These effects include activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, fever and behavioral depression. They are mediated by cytokines which are synthesized and released in the brain, in response to peripherally released cytokines. Glucocorticoids have potent regulatory effects on the synthesis of cytokines by activated macrophages and monocytes. These hormones are also able to regulate the synthesis and action of cytokines in the brain, as demonstrated by the sensitizing effects of adrenalectomy and the depressing effects of stress on the increased cytokine and interleukin-Iβ converting enzyme gene expression that occurs in response to lipopolysaccharide in mice. Preliminary experiments indicate that another way glucocorticoids can contribute to down regulation of the IL-1 system is by increasing the expression of the type II IL-1 receptor in the brain. The regulatory effects of glucocorticoids on cytokine expression in the brain have functional consequences, as demonstrated by the enhanced sensitivity of adrenalectomized animals to the behavioral actions of centrally administered LPS and IL-1. The effects of adrenalectomy are inhibited by compensation with a corticosterone implant and they are mimicked by administration of the type II glucocorticoid receptor, RU 38486. The regulatory role of glucocorticoids on the expression and action of cytokines in the brain makes these hormones and their mechanisms of action key targets for therapeutic interventions in psychopathology and neuropathology.