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Sepsis is a host response to systemic inflammation and infection that may lead to multi-organ dysfunction and eventual death. While acute brain dysfunction is common among all sepsis patients, chronic neurological impairment is prevalent among sepsis survivors. The brain microvasculature has emerged as a major determinant of sepsis-associated brain dysfunction, yet the mechanisms that underlie its associated neuroimmune perturbations and behavioral deficits are not well understood. An emerging body of data suggests that inhibition of tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) enzyme activity in cerebral microvessels may be associated with changes in endothelial cell barrier integrity. The objective of this study was to elucidate the connection between alterations in cerebrovascular TNAP enzyme activity and brain microvascular dysfunction in late sepsis. We hypothesized that the disruption of TNAP enzymatic activity in cerebral microvessels would be coupled to the sustained loss of brain microvascular integrity, elevated neuroinflammatory responses, and behavioral deficits. Male mice were subjected to cecal ligation and puncture (CLP), a model of experimental sepsis, and assessed up to seven days post-sepsis. All mice were observed daily for sickness behavior and underwent behavioral testing. Our results showed a significant decrease in brain microvascular TNAP enzyme activity in the somatosensory cortex and spinal cord of septic mice but not in the CA1 and CA3 hippocampal regions. Furthermore, we showed that loss of cerebrovascular TNAP enzyme activity was coupled to a loss of claudin-5 and increased perivascular IgG infiltration in the somatosensory cortex. Analyses of whole brain myeloid and T-lymphoid cell populations also revealed a persistent elevation of infiltrating leukocytes, which included both neutrophil and monocyte myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Regional analyses of the somatosensory cortex, hippocampus, and spinal cord revealed significant astrogliosis and microgliosis in the cortex and spinal cord of septic mice that was accompanied by significant microgliosis in the CA1 and CA3 hippocampal regions. Assessment of behavioral deficits revealed no changes in learning and memory or evoked locomotion. However, the hot plate test uncovered a novel anti-nociceptive phenotype in our septic mice, and we speculate that this phenotype may be a consequence of sustained GFAP astrogliosis and loss of TNAP activity in the somatosensory cortex and spinal cord of septic mice. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the loss of TNAP enzyme activity in cerebral microvessels during late sepsis is coupled to sustained neuroimmune dysfunction which may underlie, in part, the chronic neurological impairments observed in sepsis survivors. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Divine C Nwafor, Sreeparna Chakraborty, Allison L Brichacek, Sujung Jun, Catheryne A Gambill, Wei Wang, Elizabeth B Engler-Chiurazzi, Duaa Dakhlallah, Anthony B Pinkerton, José Luis Millán, Stanley A Benkovic, Candice M Brown. Loss of tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) enzyme activity in cerebral microvessels is coupled to persistent neuroinflammation and behavioral deficits in late sepsis. Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2020 Feb;84:115-131

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PMID: 31778743

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