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Neuronal activity increases translocator protein (TSPO) levels


Notter, Tina; Schalbetter, Sina M; Clifton, Nicholas E; Mattei, Daniele; Richetto, Juliet; Thomas, Kerrie; Meyer, Urs; Hall, Jeremy (2020). Neuronal activity increases translocator protein (TSPO) levels. Molecular Psychiatry:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

The mitochondrial protein, translocator protein (TSPO), is a widely used biomarker of neuroinflammation, but its non-selective cellular expression pattern implies roles beyond inflammatory processes. In the present study, we investigated whether neuronal activity modifies TSPO levels in the adult central nervous system. First, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to generate a cellular landscape of basal TSPO gene expression in the hippocampus of adult (12 weeks old) C57BL6/N mice, followed by confocal laser scanning microscopy to verify TSPO protein in neuronal and non-neuronal cell populations. We then quantified TSPO mRNA and protein levels after stimulating neuronal activity with distinct stimuli, including designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs), exposure to a novel environment and acute treatment with the psychostimulant drug, amphetamine. Single-cell RNA sequencing demonstrated a non-selective and multi-cellular gene expression pattern of TSPO at basal conditions in the adult mouse hippocampus. Confocal laser scanning microscopy confirmed that TSPO protein is present in neuronal and non-neuronal (astrocytes, microglia, vascular endothelial cells) cells of cortical (medial prefrontal cortex) and subcortical (hippocampus) brain regions. Stimulating neuronal activity through chemogenetic (DREADDs), physiological (novel environment exposure) or psychopharmacological (amphetamine treatment) approaches led to consistent increases in TSPO gene and protein levels in neurons, but not in microglia or astrocytes. Taken together, our findings show that neuronal activity has the potential to modify TSPO levels in the adult central nervous system. These findings challenge the general assumption that altered TSPO expression or binding unequivocally mirrors ongoing neuroinflammation and emphasize the need to consider non-inflammatory interpretations in some physiological or pathological contexts.

Abstract

The mitochondrial protein, translocator protein (TSPO), is a widely used biomarker of neuroinflammation, but its non-selective cellular expression pattern implies roles beyond inflammatory processes. In the present study, we investigated whether neuronal activity modifies TSPO levels in the adult central nervous system. First, we used single-cell RNA sequencing to generate a cellular landscape of basal TSPO gene expression in the hippocampus of adult (12 weeks old) C57BL6/N mice, followed by confocal laser scanning microscopy to verify TSPO protein in neuronal and non-neuronal cell populations. We then quantified TSPO mRNA and protein levels after stimulating neuronal activity with distinct stimuli, including designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs), exposure to a novel environment and acute treatment with the psychostimulant drug, amphetamine. Single-cell RNA sequencing demonstrated a non-selective and multi-cellular gene expression pattern of TSPO at basal conditions in the adult mouse hippocampus. Confocal laser scanning microscopy confirmed that TSPO protein is present in neuronal and non-neuronal (astrocytes, microglia, vascular endothelial cells) cells of cortical (medial prefrontal cortex) and subcortical (hippocampus) brain regions. Stimulating neuronal activity through chemogenetic (DREADDs), physiological (novel environment exposure) or psychopharmacological (amphetamine treatment) approaches led to consistent increases in TSPO gene and protein levels in neurons, but not in microglia or astrocytes. Taken together, our findings show that neuronal activity has the potential to modify TSPO levels in the adult central nervous system. These findings challenge the general assumption that altered TSPO expression or binding unequivocally mirrors ongoing neuroinflammation and emphasize the need to consider non-inflammatory interpretations in some physiological or pathological contexts.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Molecular Biology
Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Molecular Biology, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Psychiatry and Mental health
Language:English
Date:12 May 2020
Deposited On:18 Feb 2021 13:09
Last Modified:19 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1359-4184
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0745-1

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