Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

GM-CSF increases LPS-induced production of proinflammatory mediators via upregulation of TLR4 and CD14 in murine microglia

Bijay Parajuli1, Yoshifumi Sonobe1*, Jun Kawanokuchi1, Yukiko Doi1, Mariko Noda12, Hideyuki Takeuchi1, Tetsuya Mizuno1 and Akio Suzumura1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroimmunology, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan

2 Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Keio University, Shinanomachi, Tokyo, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:268  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-268

Published: 13 December 2012



Microglia are resident macrophage-like cells in the central nervous system (CNS) and cause innate immune responses via the LPS receptors, Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and CD14, in a variety of neuroinflammatory disorders including bacterial infection, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) activates microglia and induces inflammatory responses via binding to GM-CSF receptor complex composed of two different subunit GM-CSF receptor α (GM-CSFRα) and common β chain (βc). GM-CSF has been shown to be associated with neuroinflammatory responses in multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the mechanisms how GM-CSF promotes neuroinflammation still remain unclear.


Microglia were stimulated with 20 ng/ml GM-CSF and the levels of TLR4 and CD14 expression were evaluated by RT-PCR and flowcytometry. LPS binding was analyzed by flowcytometry. GM-CSF receptor complex was analyzed by immunocytechemistry. The levels of IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α in culture supernatant of GM-CSF-stimulated microglia and NF-κB nuclear translocation were determined by ELISA. Production of nitric oxide (NO) was measured by the Griess method. The levels of p-ERK1/2, ERK1/2, p-p38 and p38 were assessed by Western blotting. Statistically significant differences between experimental groups were determined by one-way ANOVA followed by Tukey test for multiple comparisons.


GM-CSF receptor complex was expressed in microglia. GM-CSF enhanced TLR4 and CD14 expressions in microglia and subsequent LPS-binding to the cell surface. In addition, GM-CSF priming increased LPS-induced NF-κB nuclear translocation and production of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α and NO by microglia. GM-CSF upregulated the levels of p-ERK1/2 and p-p38, suggesting that induction of TLR4 and CD14 expression by GM-CSF was mediated through ERK1/2 and p38, respectively.


These results suggest that GM-CSF upregulates TLR4 and CD14 expression in microglia through ERK1/2 and p38, respectively, and thus promotes the LPS receptor-mediated inflammation in the CNS.

Microglia; TLR4; CD14; GM-CSF; NF-κB