Fn14, the sole known signaling receptor for the TNF family member TWEAK, is inducibly expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) in endothelial cells, astrocytes, microglia, and neurons. There is increasing recognition of the importance of the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway in autoimmune neurologic conditions, including experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and neuropsychiatric lupus. Previously, we had found that Fn14 knockout lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice display significantly attenuated neuropsychiatric manifestations. To investigate whether this improvement in disease is secondary to inhibition of TWEAK/Fn14 signaling within the CNS or the periphery, and determine whether TWEAK-mediated neuropsychiatric effects are strain dependent, we performed intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of Fc-TWEAK or an isotype matched control protein to C57Bl6/J non-autoimmune mice. We found that Fc-TWEAK injected C57Bl6/J mice developed significant depression-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction. Inflammatory mediators associated with lupus brain disease, including CCL2, C3, and iNOS, were significantly elevated in the brains of Fc-TWEAK treated mice. Furthermore, Fc-TWEAK directly increased blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability, as demonstrated by increased IgG deposition in the brain and reduced aquaporin-4 expression. Finally, Fc-TWEAK increased apoptotic cell death in the cortex and hippocampus. In conclusion, TWEAK can contribute to lupus-associated neurobehavioral deficits including depression and cognitive dysfunction by acting within the CNS to enhance production of inflammatory mediators, promote disruption of the BBB, and induce apoptosis in resident brain cells. Our study provides further support that the TWEAK/Fn14 signaling pathway may be a potential therapeutic target for inflammatory diseases involving the CNS.
- Neuropsychiatric lupus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience