Thymosin β4 inhibits microglia activation through microRNA 146a in neonatal rats following hypoxia injury

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Neuroinflammation mediated by activated microglia plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders, including hypoxic injury of the developing brain. Thymosin β4 (Tβ4), the major G-actin-sequestering molecule, has an anti-inflammatory effect and has been used to treat various neurological diseases. However, the effect of Tβ4 on hypoxia-induced microglia activation in the developing brain remains unclear. We investigate here the effect of Tβ4 on microglia activation of neonatal rats after hypoxia exposure. Tβ4 treatment was carried out on 1-day-old rats and BV-2 cells. Tβ4 expression in microglia was determined by quantitative real time-PCR, western blotting, and immunofluorescence staining. Secretion of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and nitric oxide (NO) was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and colorimetric assay. mRNA expression of TNF-α and IL-1β, and microRNA 146a expression was determined by quantitative real time-PCR. We showed that Tβ4 treatment significantly inhibited secretion of inflammatory mediators in the cerebellum of neonatal rats following hypoxia injury. Increased expression of endogenous Tβ4 in microglia was observed both in hypoxic rats and in BV-2 cells. Tβ4 treatment significantly inhibited the expression and secretion of hypoxia-induced TNF-α, IL-1β, and NO. Remarkably, microRNA 146a expression was found to have increased in Tβ4-treated BV-2 cells. We demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effect of Tβ4 in neonatal rats following hypoxic brain injury. More importantly, our data reveal, for the first time, that Tβ4 inhibits microglia activation in vitro. Therefore, this study contributes to understanding the role and mechanism of Tβ4 function in central nervous system diseases.

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