Time dependent neuroprotection of mycophenolate mofetil: effects on temporal dynamics in glial proliferation, apoptosis, and scar formation
Institute of Anatomy, Leipzig University, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:89 doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-89Published: 8 May 2012
Immunosuppressants such as mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) have the capacity to inhibit microglial and astrocytic activation and to reduce the extent of cell death after neuronal injury. This study was designed to determine the effective neuroprotective time frame in which MMF elicits its beneficial effects, by analyzing glial cell proliferation, migration, and apoptosis.
Using organotypic hippocampal slice cultures (OHSCs), temporal dynamics of proliferation and apoptosis after N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-mediated excitotoxicity were analyzed by quantitative morphometry of Ki-67 or cleaved caspase-3 immunoreactive glial cells. Treatment on NMDA-lesioned OHSCs with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF)100 μg/mL was started at different time points after injury or performed within specific time frames, and the numbers of propidium iodide (PI)+ degenerating neurons and isolectin (I)B4+ microglial cells were determined. Pre-treatment with guanosine 100 μmol/l was performed to counteract MMF-induced effects. The effects of MMF on reactive astrocytic scar formation were investigated in the scratch-wound model of astrocyte monolayers.
Excitotoxic lesion induction led to significant increases in glial proliferation rates between 12 and 36 hours after injury and to increased levels of apoptotic cells between 24 and 72 hours after injury. MMF treatment significantly reduced glial proliferation rates without affecting apoptosis. Continuous MMF treatment potently reduced the extent of neuronal cell demise when started within the first 12 hours after injury. A crucial time-frame of significant neuroprotection was identified between 12 and 36 hours after injury. Pre-treatment with the neuroprotective nucleoside guanosine reversed MMF-induced antiproliferative effects on glial cells. In the scratch-wound model, gap closure was reached within 48 hours in controls, and was potently inhibited by MMF.
Our data indicate that immunosuppression by MMF significantly attenuates the extent of neuronal cell death when administered within a crucial time frame after injury. Moreover, long-lasting immunosuppression, as required after solid-organ transplantation, does not seem to be necessary. Targeting inosine 5-monophosphate dehydrogenase, the rate-limiting enzyme of purine synthesis, is an effective strategy to modulate the temporal dynamics of proliferation and migration of microglia and astrocytes, and thus to reduce the extent of secondary neuronal damage and scar formation.