Publications by authors named "Maja Kitic"

10 Publications

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Interleukin-1 promotes autoimmune neuroinflammation by suppressing endothelial heme oxygenase-1 at the blood-brain barrier.

Acta Neuropathol 2020 10 11;140(4):549-567. Epub 2020 Jul 11.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

The proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 1 (IL-1) is crucially involved in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Herein, we studied the role of IL-1 signaling in blood-brain barrier (BBB) endothelial cells (ECs), astrocytes and microglia for EAE development, using mice with the conditional deletion of its signaling receptor IL-1R1. We found that IL-1 signaling in microglia and astrocytes is redundant for the development of EAE, whereas the IL-1R1 deletion in BBB-ECs markedly ameliorated disease severity. IL-1 signaling in BBB-ECs upregulated the expression of the adhesion molecules Vcam-1, Icam-1 and the chemokine receptor Darc, all of which have been previously shown to promote CNS-specific inflammation. In contrast, IL-1R1 signaling suppressed the expression of the stress-responsive heme catabolizing enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in BBB-ECs, promoting disease progression via a mechanism associated with deregulated expression of the IL-1-responsive genes Vcam1, Icam1 and Ackr1 (Darc). Mechanistically, our data emphasize a functional crosstalk of BBB-EC IL-1 signaling and HO-1, controlling the transcription of downstream proinflammatory genes promoting the pathogenesis of autoimmune neuroinflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-020-02187-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498485PMC
October 2020

Novel Microglia Depletion Systems: A Genetic Approach Utilizing Conditional Diphtheria Toxin Receptor Expression and a Pharmacological Model Based on the Blocking of Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor 1 Receptor.

Methods Mol Biol 2019 ;2034:217-230

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Microglia are the main population of macrophage residing in the central nervous system (CNS). Depletion experiments gave important insights into the physiology and function of microglia in healthy and diseased CNS. Ablation of microglia can be achieved by application of pharmacological or genetic tools. Here, we describe two approaches to ablate microglia: an efficient genetic model that utilizes DTR mouse line that has diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) expression regulated by the promoter activity of the fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1) gene, and a pharmacological model that utilizes the blocking of macrophage colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) with a blocking antibody. Both the administration of systemic diphtheria toxin or anti-CSF-1R blocking antibody result in highly efficient and reversible depletion of microglia population in the CNS, which can be easily assessed by flow cytometry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-9658-2_16DOI Listing
April 2020

Microglia pre-activation and neurodegeneration precipitate neuroinflammation without exacerbating tissue injury in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2019 01 31;7(1):14. Epub 2019 Jan 31.

Department of Neuroimmunology, Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 4, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Human inflammatory or neurodegenerative diseases, such as progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), occur on a background of age-related microglia activation and iron accumulation as well as pre-existing neurodegeneration. Most experimental models for CNS diseases, however, are induced in rodents, which are naturally characterized by a homeostatic microglia phenotype, low cellular iron load and absence of neurodegeneration. Here, we show that naïve LEWzizi rats - Lewis rats with a zitter rat background - show a spontaneous phenotype partly mimicking the changes seen in human aging and particularly in the normal-appearing white and grey matter of patients with progressive MS. Using this model system, we further aimed to investigate (i) whether the acute monophasic MS model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) transforms into chronic progressive disease and (ii) whether EAE-induced neuroinflammation and tissue damage aggravate on the LEWzizi background. We found that the pre-existing LEWzizi-specific pathology precipitated EAE-related neuroinflammation into forebrain areas, which are devoid of EAE lesions in normal Lewis rats. However, EAE-related tissue damage was neither modified by the LEWzizi-specific pathology nor did EAE-induced neuroinflammation modify the LEWzizi-related pathological process. Our data indicate that the interaction between pre-activated microglia and CD4 autoreactive T cells during the induction and propagation of tissue damage in the CNS is limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-019-0667-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357376PMC
January 2019

NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK) is an essential post-transcriptional regulator of T-cell activation affecting F-actin dynamics and TCR signaling.

J Autoimmun 2018 11 29;94:110-121. Epub 2018 Jul 29.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany. Electronic address:

NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK) is the key protein of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway and is important for the development of lymph nodes and other secondary immune organs. We elucidated the specific role of NIK in T cells using T-cell specific NIK-deficient (NIK) mice. Despite showing normal development of lymphoid organs, NIK mice were resistant to induction of CNS autoimmunity. T cells from NIK mice were deficient in late priming, failed to up-regulate T-bet and to transmigrate into the CNS. Proteomic analysis of activated NIK T cells showed de-regulated expression of proteins involved in the formation of the immunological synapse: in particular, proteins involved in cytoskeleton dynamics. In line with this we found that NIK-deficient T cells were hampered in phosphorylation of Zap70, LAT, AKT, ERK1/2 and PLCγ upon TCR engagement. Hence, our data disclose a hitherto unknown function of NIK in T-cell priming and differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2018.07.017DOI Listing
November 2018

NG2 plays a role in neuroinflammation but is not expressed by immune cells.

Acta Neuropathol 2017 08 31;134(2):325-327. Epub 2017 May 31.

Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-017-1735-5DOI Listing
August 2017

Thymic stromal lymphopoietin is expressed in the intact central nervous system and upregulated in the myelin-degenerative central nervous system.

Glia 2014 Jul 25;62(7):1066-74. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Medical University Vienna, Center for Brain Research, Department of Neuroimmunology, Spitalgasse 4, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is an epithelial cytokine expressed at barrier surfaces of the skin, gut, nose, lung, and the maternal/fetal interphase. At these sites, it is important for the generation and maintenance of non-inflammatory, tissue-resident dendritic cell responses. We show here that TSLP is also expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) where it is produced by choroid plexus epithelial cells and astrocytes in the spinal cord. Under conditions of low-grade myelin degeneration, the numbers of TSLP-expressing astrocytes increase, and microglia express transcripts for the functional TSLP receptor dimer indicating that these cells are targets for TSLP in the myelin-degenerative CNS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/glia.22662DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4237118PMC
July 2014

Maternal neurofascin-specific autoantibodies bind to structures of the fetal nervous system during pregnancy, but have no long term effect on development in the rat.

PLoS One 2014 20;9(1):e85393. Epub 2014 Jan 20.

University of Glasgow, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Unlabelled: Neurofascin was recently reported as a target for axopathic autoantibodies in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), a response that will exacerbate axonal pathology and disease severity in an animal model of multiple sclerosis. As transplacental transfer of maternal autoantibodies can permanently damage the developing nervous system we investigated whether intrauterine exposure to this neurofascin-specific response had any detrimental effect on white matter tract development. To address this question we intravenously injected pregnant rats with either a pathogenic anti-neurofascin monoclonal antibody or an appropriate isotype control on days 15 and 18 of pregnancy, respectively, to mimic the physiological concentration of maternal antibodies in the circulation of the fetus towards the end of pregnancy. Pups were monitored daily with respect to litter size, birth weight, growth and motor development. Histological studies were performed on E20 embryos and pups sacrificed on days 2, 10, 21, 32 and 45 days post partum.

Results: Immunohistochemistry for light and confocal microscopy confirmed passively transferred anti-neurofascin antibody had crossed the placenta to bind to distinct structures in the developing cortex and cerebellum. However, this did not result in any significant differences in litter size, birth weight, or general physical development between litters from control mothers or those treated with the neurofascin-specific antibody. Histological analysis also failed to identify any neuronal or white matter tract abnormalities induced by the neurofascin-specific antibody.

Conclusions: We show that transplacental transfer of circulating anti-neurofascin antibodies can occur and targets specific structures in the CNS of the developing fetus. However, this did not result in any pre- or post-natal abnormalities in the offspring of the treated mothers. These results assure that even if anti-neurofascin responses are detected in pregnant women with multiple sclerosis these are unlikely to have a negative effect on their children.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0085393PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3896359PMC
December 2014

T cell-activation in neuromyelitis optica lesions plays a role in their formation.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2013 Dec 24;1:85. Epub 2013 Dec 24.

Department of Neuroimmunology, Center for Brain Research, Medical University Vienna, Spitalgasse 4, Vienna A-1090, Austria.

Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which is characterized by the presence of pathogenic serum autoantibodies against aquaporin 4 (AQP4) in the vast majority of patients. The contribution of T cells to the formation of astrocyte destructive lesions is currently unclear. However, active human NMO lesions contain CD4+ T-lymphocytes expressing the activation marker Ox40, and the expression is more profound compared to that seen in MS lesions of comparable activity. Therefore, we analyzed the role of T-cell activation within the CNS in the initiation of NMO lesions in an experimental model of co-transfer of different encephalitogenic T-cells and human AQP4 antibody containing NMO immunoglobulin (NMO IgG). We further studied the expression of the T-cell activation marker Ox40 in NMO and multiple sclerosis lesions in different stages of activity.

Results: All encephalitogenic T-cell lines used in our experiments induced brain inflammation with a comparable extent of blood brain barrier damage, allowing human NMO IgG to penetrate into the brain and spinal cord tissue. However, astrocyte destructive NMO lesions were only seen with T-cells, which showed signs of activation in the lesions. T-cell activation was reflected by the expression of the activation marker Ox40 and pronounced production of γ-IFN, which was able to increase the production of complement proteins and of the Fc gamma III receptor (Fcgr3) and decreased production of complement inhibitory protein Factor H in microglia.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that local activation of T-cells provide an inflammatory environment in the CNS, which allows AQP4 auto-antibodies to induce astrocyte destructive NMO-like lesions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2051-5960-1-85DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879999PMC
December 2013

Intrastriatal injection of interleukin-1 beta triggers the formation of neuromyelitis optica-like lesions in NMO-IgG seropositive rats.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2013 May 8;1. Epub 2013 May 8.

Department of Neuroimmunology, Medical University Vienna, Center for Brain Research, Spitalgasse 4, Vienna, A-1090, Austria.

Background: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a severe, disabling disease of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by the formation of astrocyte-destructive, neutrophil-dominated inflammatory lesions in the spinal cord and optic nerves. These lesions are initiated by the binding of pathogenic aquaporin 4 (AQP4)-specific autoantibodies to astrocytes and subsequent complement-mediated lysis of these cells. Typically, these lesions form in a setting of CNS inflammation, where the blood-brain barrier is open for the entry of antibodies and complement. However, it remained unclear to which extent pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines contribute to the formation of NMO lesions. To specifically address this question, we injected the cytokines interleukin-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, interferon gamma and the chemokine CXCL2 into the striatum of NMO-IgG seropositive rats and analyzed the tissue 24 hours later by immunohistochemistry.

Results: All injected cytokines and chemokines led to profound leakage of immunoglobulins into the injected hemisphere, but only interleukin-1 beta induced the formation of perivascular, neutrophil-infiltrated lesions with AQP4 loss and complement-mediated astrocyte destruction distant from the needle tract. Treatment of rat brain endothelial cells with interleukin-1 beta, but not with any other cytokine or chemokine applied at the same concentration and over the same period of time, caused profound upregulation of granulocyte-recruiting and supporting molecules. Injection of interleukin-1 beta caused higher numbers of blood vessels with perivascular, cellular C1q reactivity than any other cytokine tested. Finally, the screening of a large sample of CNS lesions from NMO and multiple sclerosis patients revealed large numbers of interleukin-1 beta-reactive macrophages/activated microglial cells in active NMO lesions but not in MS lesions with comparable lesion activity and location.

Conclusions: Our data strongly suggest that interleukin-1 beta released in NMO lesions and interleukin-1 beta-induced production/accumulation of complement factors (like C1q) facilitate neutrophil entry and BBB breakdown in the vicinity of NMO lesions, and might thus be an important secondary factor for lesion formation, possibly by paving the ground for rapid lesion growth and amplified immune cell recruitment to this site.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2051-5960-1-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776214PMC
May 2013

Pathogenic T cell responses against aquaporin 4.

Acta Neuropathol 2011 Jul 6;122(1):21-34. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

Department of Neuroimmunology, Center for Brain Research, Medical University Vienna, Spitalgasse 4, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

Inflammatory lesions in the central nervous system of patients with neuromyelitis optica are characterized by infiltration of T cells and deposition of aquaporin-4-specific antibodies and complement on astrocytes at the glia limitans. Although the contribution of aquaporin-4-specific autoantibodies to the disease process has been recently elucidated, a potential role of aquaporin-4-specific T cells in lesion formation is unresolved. To address this issue, we raised aquaporin-4-specific T cell lines in Lewis rats and characterized their pathogenic potential in the presence and absence of aquaporin-4-specific autoantibodies of neuromyelitis optica patients. We show that aquaporin-4-specific T cells induce brain inflammation with particular targeting of the astrocytic glia limitans and permit the entry of pathogenic anti-aquaporin-4-specific antibodies to induce NMO-like lesions in spinal cord and brain. In addition, transfer of aquaporin-4-specific T cells provoked mild (subclinical) myositis and interstitial nephritis. We further show that the expression of the conformational epitope, recognized by NMO patient-derived aquaporin-4-specific antibodies is induced in kidney cells by the pro-inflammatory cytokine gamma-interferon. Our data provide further support for the view that NMO lesions may be induced by a complex interplay of T cell mediated and humoral immune responses against aquaporin-4.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-011-0824-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3120973PMC
July 2011