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Neuroinflammation plays an important role in pathogenesis of germinal matrix hemorrhage (GMH). Neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) is a member of the neurotrophin family and interacts with the tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB). NT-4 has been shown to confer neuroprotective effects following cerebral ischemia. We aimed to investigate the neuroprotective function of NT-4-TrkB signaling, as well as its downstream signaling cascade phosphatidylinositol-3-kinases (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt)/forkhead box protein O1 (FoxO1), following GMH in neonatal rats. GMH was induced by intraparenchymal injection of bacterial collagenase (0.3 U) in P7 rat pups. A total of 163 pups were used in this study. Recombinant human NT-4 was administered intranasally at 1 h after the collagenase injection. The selective TrkB antagonist ANA-12, selective PI3K inhibitor LY294002, and FoxO1 activating CRISPR were administered intracerebroventricularly at 24 h prior to NT-4 treatment to investigate the underlying mechanism. Short-term and long-term neurobehavioral assessments, immunofluorescence staining, Nissl's staining, and Western blot were performed. Expression of phosphorylated TrkB increased after GMH, reaching the peak level at day 3 after hemorrhage. TrkB receptors were observed on neurons, microglia, and astrocytes. The administration of rh-NT-4 induced phosphorylation of TrkB, expression of PI3K, and phosphorylation of Akt. Meanwhile, it decreased FoxO1 and IL-6 levels. Selective inhibition of TrkB/PI3K/Akt signaling in microglia increased the expression levels of FoxO1 and pro-inflammatory cytokines. FoxO1 activating CRISPR increased the expression of IL-6, suggesting that FoxO1 might be a potential inducer of pro-inflammatory factors. These results suggested that PI3K/Akt/FoxO1 signaling may be the downstream pathway of activation of TrkB. The rat pups treated with rh-NT-4 performed better than vehicle-treated animals in both short-term and long-term behavioral tests. These data showed that rh-NT-4 reduced the expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, improved neurological function, attenuated neuroinflammation, and thereby mitigated post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus after GMH by TrkB/PI3K/Akt/FoxO1 pathway. These results indicated that rh-NT-4 could be a promising therapeutic strategy to ameliorate neuroinflammation and hydrocephalus after GMH or other similar brain injuries.


Tianyi Wang, Junyi Zhang, Peng Li, Yan Ding, Jiping Tang, Gang Chen, John H Zhang. NT-4 attenuates neuroinflammation via TrkB/PI3K/FoxO1 pathway after germinal matrix hemorrhage in neonatal rats. Journal of neuroinflammation. 2020 May 16;17(1):158

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PMID: 32416727

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