Tolerized Microglia Protect Neurons Against Endotoxin-Induced TNF-α Production via an LBP-Dependent Intracellular p38 MAPK Signaling Pathway

Hsing Chun Kuo, Shiou Lan Chen, Shu Chen Chiu, Kam Fai Lee, Chun Hsien Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of microglial endotoxin tolerance (ET) is a critical event in protecting neurons against excessive immune responses when microglia are administered two consecutive lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenges. However, the intrinsic mechanisms of microglia shape ET programs and protect neurons remain unclear. This study aimed to determine whether extracellular autocrine cascades or intracellular signaling pathways are involved in ET microglia-mediated tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) reduction and neuroprotection. Neuron-glia cultures composed of astroglia, neurons, and microglia were performed in different conditions: with or without serum or LPS-binding proteins (LBP), along with an induction approach of ET. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results revealed that LPS induced TNF-α tolerance of microglia in an LBP-dependent manner. Furthermore, we determined whether the early pro-inflammatory cytokines induced by LPS might contribute to the development of microglial ET. Our data showed that the neutralization of TNF-α using an anti-TNF-α antibody had no change in the TNF-α tolerance of microglia during the ET challenge. Furthermore, pre-incubation of TNF-α, interleukin-1 beta, and prostaglandin E2 failed to induce any TNF-α tolerance in microglia after LPS treatment. Moreover, using three specific chemical inhibitors that respectively blocked the activities of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) namely p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-related kinases revealed that inhibition of p38 MAPK by SB203580 disrupted the tolerated microglia-mediated TNF-α reduction and neuroprotection. In summary, our findings demonstrated that the LPS pre-treatment immediately programmed the microglial ET to prevent endotoxin-induced TNF-α production and neuronal damage through the intracellular p38 MAPK signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2011-2023
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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