Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2018 02;21(2):187-200
Section of Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology and Perinatal Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.
Background: In humans, interferon-α treatment for chronic viral hepatitis is a well-recognized clinical model for inflammation-induced depression, but the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects are not clear. Following peripheral administration in rodents, interferon-α induces signal transducer and activator of transcription-1 (STAT1) within the hippocampus and disrupts hippocampal neurogenesis.
Methods: We used the human hippocampal progenitor cell line HPC0A07/03C to evaluate the effects of 2 concentrations of interferon-α, similar to those observed in human serum during its therapeutic use (500 pg/mL and 5000 pg/mL), on neurogenesis and apoptosis.
Results: Both concentrations of interferon-α decreased hippocampal neurogenesis, with the high concentration also increasing apoptosis. Moreover, interferon-α increased the expression of interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), ubiquitin-specific peptidase 18 (USP18), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) via activation of STAT1. Like interferon-α, co-treatment with a combination of ISG15, USP18, and IL-6 was able to reduce neurogenesis and enhance apoptosis via further downstream activation of STAT1. Further experiments showed that ISG15 and USP18 mediated the interferon-α-induced reduction in neurogenesis (potentially through upregulation of the ISGylation-related proteins UBA7, UBE2L6, and HERC5), while IL-6 mediated the interferon-α-induced increase in apoptosis (potentially through downregulation of aquaporin 4). Using transcriptomic analyses, we showed that interferon-α regulated pathways involved in oxidative stress and immune response (e.g., Nuclear Factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 [Nrf2] and interferon regulatory factor [IRF] signaling pathway), neuronal formation (e.g., CAMP response element-binding protein [CREB] signaling), and cell death regulation (e.g., tumor protein(p)53 signaling).
Conclusions: We identify novel molecular mechanisms mediating the effects of interferon-α on the human hippocampus potentially involved in inflammation-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms.