C5a/CD88 signaling alters blood–brain barrier integrity in lupus through nuclear factor-κB

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Inflammation is a key factor in a number of neurodegenerative diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus. The complement system is an important mechanism in initiating and amplifying inflammation. Our recent studies demonstrate that C5a, a protein fragment generated during complement activation could alter the blood–brain barrier integrity, and thereby disturb the brain microenvironment. To understand the mechanism by which this occurs, we examined the effects of C5a on apoptosis, translocation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κb) and the expression of Iκbα, MAPK, CREB and TJ protein, zona occludens (ZO-1) in mouse brain endothelial cells. Apoptosis was examined by DNA laddering and caspase 3 activity and the distribution of the ZO-1 and the p65 subunit of NF-κB were determined by immunofluorescence. Inhibition of CD88 reduced translocation of NF-κb into the nucleus, altered ZO-1 at the interfaces of neighboring cells, decreased caspase 3 activity and prevented apoptosis in these cells. Our results indicate that signaling through CD88 regulates the blood–brain barrier in a NF-κb-dependent manner. These studies suggest that the C5a receptor, CD88 is a promising therapeutic target that will reduce NF-κb-signaling cascades in inflammatory settings.

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