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      Cognitive impairments induced by necrotizing enterocolitis can be prevented by inhibiting microglial activation in mouse brain

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          Abstract

          Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal disease of the premature infant. One of the most important long-term complications observed in children who survive NEC early in life is the development of profound neurological impairments. However, the pathways leading to NEC-associated neurological impairments remain unknown, thus limiting the development of prevention strategies. We have recently shown that NEC development is dependent on the expression of the lipopolysaccharide receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) on the intestinal epithelium, whose activation by bacteria in the newborn gut leads to mucosal inflammation. Here, we hypothesized that damage-induced production of TLR4 endogenous ligands in the intestine might lead to activation of microglial cells in the brain and promote cognitive impairments. We identified a gut-brain signaling axis in an NEC mouse model in which activation of intestinal TLR4 signaling led to release of high-mobility group box 1 in the intestine that, in turn, promoted microglial activation in the brain and neurological dysfunction. We further demonstrated that an orally administered dendrimer-based nanotherapeutic approach to targeting activated microglia could prevent NEC-associated neurological dysfunction in neonatal mice. These findings shed light on the molecular pathways leading to the development of NEC-associated brain injury, provide a rationale for early removal of diseased intestine in NEC, and indicate the potential of targeted therapies that protect the developing brain in the treatment of NEC in early childhood.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Neurodevelopmental and growth impairment among extremely low-birth-weight infants with neonatal infection.

          Neonatal infections are frequent complications of extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW) infants receiving intensive care. To determine if neonatal infections in ELBW infants are associated with increased risks of adverse neurodevelopmental and growth sequelae in early childhood. Infants weighing 401 to 1000 g at birth (born in 1993-2001) were enrolled in a prospectively collected very low-birth-weight registry at academic medical centers participating in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. Neurodevelopmental and growth outcomes were assessed at a comprehensive follow-up visit at 18 to 22 months of corrected gestational age and compared by infection group. Eighty percent of survivors completed the follow-up visit and 6093 infants were studied. Registry data were used to classify infants by type of infection: uninfected (n = 2161), clinical infection alone (n = 1538), sepsis (n = 1922), sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis (n = 279), or meningitis with or without sepsis (n = 193). Cognitive and neuromotor development, neurologic status, vision and hearing, and growth (weight, length, and head circumference) were assessed at follow-up. The majority of ELBW survivors (65%) had at least 1 infection during their hospitalization after birth. Compared with uninfected infants, those in each of the 4 infection groups were significantly more likely to have adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at follow-up, including cerebral palsy (range of significant odds ratios [ORs], 1.4-1.7), low Bayley Scales of Infant Development II scores on the mental development index (ORs, 1.3-1.6) and psychomotor development index (ORs, 1.5-2.4), and vision impairment (ORs, 1.3-2.2). Infection in the neonatal period was also associated with impaired head growth, a known predictor of poor neurodevelopmental outcome. This large cohort study suggests that neonatal infections among ELBW infants are associated with poor neurodevelopmental and growth outcomes in early childhood. Additional studies are needed to elucidate the pathogenesis of brain injury in infants with infection so that novel interventions to improve these outcomes can be explored.
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            HMGB1 signals through toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and TLR2.

            In response to bacterial endotoxin (e.g., LPS) or endogenous proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNF and IL-1beta), innate immune cells release HMGB1, a late cytokine mediator of lethal endotoxemia and sepsis. The delayed kinetics of HMGB1 release makes it an attractive therapeutic target with a wider window of opportunity for the treatment of lethal systemic inflammation. However, the receptor(s) responsible for HMGB1-mediated production of proinflammatory cytokines has not been well characterized. Here we demonstrate that in human whole blood, neutralizing antibodies against Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4, but not TLR2 or receptor for advanced glycation end product) dose-dependently attenuate HMGB1-induced IL-8 release. Similarly, in primary human macrophages, HMGB1-induced TNF release is dose-dependently inhibited by anti-TLR4 antibodies. In primary macrophages from knockout mice, HMGB1 activates significantly less TNF release in cells obtained from MyD88 and TLR4 knockout mice as compared with cells from TLR2 knockout and wild-type controls. However, in human embryonic kidney 293 cells transfected with TLR2 or TLR4, HMGB1 effectively induces IL-8 release only from TLR2 overexpressing cells. Consistently, anti-TLR2 antibodies dose-dependently attenuate HMGB1-induced IL-8 release in human embryonic kidney/TLR2-expressing cells and markedly reduce HMGB1 cell surface binding on murine macrophage-like RAW 264.7 cells. Taken together, our data suggest that there is a differential usage of TLR2 and TLR4 in HMGB1 signaling in primary cells and in established cell lines, adding complexity to studies of HMGB1 signaling which was not previously expected.
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              Late oligodendrocyte progenitors coincide with the developmental window of vulnerability for human perinatal white matter injury.

              Hypoxic-ischemic injury to the periventricular cerebral white matter [periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)] results in cerebral palsy and is the leading cause of brain injury in premature infants. The principal feature of PVL is a chronic disturbance of myelination and suggests that oligodendrocyte (OL) lineage progression is disrupted by ischemic injury. We determined the OL lineage stages at risk for injury during the developmental window of vulnerability for PVL (23-32 weeks, postconceptional age). In 26 normal control autopsy human brains, OL lineage progression was defined in parietal white matter, a region of predilection for PVL. Three successive OL stages, the late OL progenitor, the immature OL, and the mature OL, were characterized between 18 and 41 weeks with anti-NG2 proteoglycan, O4, O1, and anti-myelin basic protein (anti-MBP) antibodies. NG2+O4+ late OL progenitors were the predominant stage throughout the latter half of gestation. Between 18 and 27 weeks, O4+O1+ immature OLs were a minor population (9.9 +/- 2.1% of total OLs; n = 9). Between 28 and 41 weeks, an increase in immature OLs to 30.9 +/- 2.1% of total OLs (n = 9) was accompanied by a progressive increase in MBP+ myelin sheaths that were restricted to the periventricular white matter. The developmental window of high risk for PVL thus precedes the onset of myelination and identifies the late OL progenitor as the major potential target. Moreover, the decline in incidence of PVL at approximately 32 weeks coincides with the onset of myelination in the periventricular white matter and suggests that the risk for PVL is related to the presence of late OL progenitors in the periventricular white matter.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science Translational Medicine
                Sci. Transl. Med.
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                1946-6234
                1946-6242
                December 12 2018
                December 12 2018
                December 12 2018
                December 12 2018
                : 10
                : 471
                : eaan0237
                Article
                10.1126/scitranslmed.aan0237
                © 2018

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