Metabolic consequences of interleukin-6 challenge in developing neurons and astroglia
It is presently unknown what types of neuronal signals maintain microglial cells resting in the normal brain or control their activation in neuropathology. Recent data suggest that microglia activation induces apoptosis and that healthy neurons are controllers of the activation state and immune functions of microglia. In the present study we have evaluated, on microglial cells in cultures, whether neurons are able to affect their survival in resting conditions or upon activation with the bacterial endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We report that neuron-conditioned culture media induced apoptosis of LPS-stimulated, but not of unstimulated, microglia. This effect was, however, only present when conditioned media had been exposed to differentiated neurons and not to immature ones, and was absent when glutamate receptors had been pharmacologically blocked in neuronal cultures. The effect was also blocked by heat-inactivation of the conditioned media. Media conditioned with either differentiated or undifferentiated cerebellar granule neurons positively affected the survival of unstimulated microglial cells when the standard concentration of fetal bovine serum (10%) was included in the culture media. Our results highlight the ability of differentiated neurons to maintain a controlled inflammatory state through production of factor(s) favoring the apoptotic elimination of activated microglia. They also suggest that immature neurons may, on the contrary, favor the survival of microglia during development.