Deficiency of 11β-HSD1 modulates energy homeostasis in the brain following systemic inflammation
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Chronically elevated brain glucocorticoid (GC) levels impair cognition. Age-related cognitive deficits or "sickness" behaviour is often associated with neuroinflammation. In rodents, raised GC levels prior to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration potentiate neuroinflammation although GC suppresses neuroinflammation if administered after LPS. 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (11β-HSD1) reductase activity can increase intracellular GC levels, including in the brain, without alteration in circulating levels. Deficiency/pharmacological inhibition of 11β-HSD1 is protective against age related cognitive impairment in both rodent and humans. However, the underlying mechanism remains unclear.11β-HSD1 reductase activity is coupled to hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity, itself dependent on cellular energy status. Processes affected by deficiency/inhibition of 11β- HSD1 (e.g. acute inflammation, angiogenesis) are associated with increased glycolysis. Additionally, compared to C57BL/6J controls, adipose tissue of 11β-HSD1 deficient mice shows increased expression of glycolytic and oxidative metabolism genes in a rodent model of obesity, characterised by low-grade chronic inflammation.I hypothesised that 11β-HSD1 has a role in regulation of cellular energetics basally and following inflammation. 11β-HSD1 expression in the brain will be up-regulated during systemic inflammation. Following inflammation, 11β-HSD1 deficiency will attenuate the pro-inflammatory response and subsequently alter energy substrate uptake and/or utilisation in the key areas of brain (i.e. hypothalamus and the hippocampus) that sense and respond to inflammation and energy balance. To test my hypothesis, global 11β-HSD1 KO mice, primary macrophages in vitro and murine models of inflammations were utilised.11β-HSD1 mRNA and protein expression were confirmed in the hypothalamus and the hippocampus of C57BL/6J mice. In the absence of inflammation, expression of inflammatory markers is low or negligible in the brains of Hsd11b1-/- mice similar to C57BL/6J controls. However, compared to C57BL/6J, Hsd11b1-/- mice show altered mRNA levels of metabolic transporters and enzymes in the hypothalamus and the hippocampus. Overall, the mRNA profiling suggests reduced dependence on glucose in the brains of Hsd11b1-/- mice, either through increased lactate availability (in the whole brain and hippocampus) or through increased glycolysis and mitochondrial number/function (in the hypothalamus).Primary macrophages were utilised to investigate the role of 11β-HSD1 in cellular energetics in vitro. In these cell based assays, glycolysis was found to be the predominant glucose metabolising pathway in C57BL/6J primary macrophages, consistent with the literature. Preliminary data suggested reduced glycolytic activity in Hsd11b1-/- compared to C57BL/6J primary macrophages. However, initial attempts to utilise these cell based assays on primary microglia were unsuccessful. Moreover, Hsd11b1 mRNAs in the brain (down-regulation with inflammation, discussed later) was found to be differentially regulated in comparison to Hsd11b1 mRNA levels in the macrophages (up-regulation with inflammation) hence further investigation was not pursued.To identify a model of peripheral inflammation where 11β-HSD1 is regulated in the brain in vivo, Staph. aureus induced acute lung inflammation and the K/BxN serum transfer induced model of arthritis were utilised. Increased expression of inflammatory markers in the brain was associated with reduced Hsd11b1 mRNA levels in the hippocampus of control mice in these models. Comparison of Hsd11b1-/- and C57BL/6J mice showed increased levels of mRNAs encoding metabolic transporters in the hypothalamus and the hippocampus of Hsd11b1-/- mice following inflammation in the K/BxN serum transfer model of arthritis suggesting increased energy substrate availability. Additionally, increased levels of mRNA encoding metabolic enzymes suggested increased glycolytic capacity and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation activity in the hippocampus but not the hypothalamus of Hsd11b1- /-, compared to C57BL/6J mice, following K/BxN serum induced arthritis. Overall, these data suggest that the reduction in expression of 11β-HSD1 could be a potential mechanism to increase energy substrate availability, glycolytic capacity and mitochondrial activity in the hippocampus to provide metabolic support for neuronal metabolism and function following peripheral inflammation.The role of 11β-HSD1 in the pro-inflammatory response and cellular energetics in the hippocampus was further investigated in a well characterised sterile peritonitis model of systemic inflammation in which a low to moderate dose of LPS was used. Mice were administered LPS or vehicle (0.9% saline) by a single i.p. injection and culled 3h, 6h or 9h post injection.Inflammation resulted in significant reduction in burrowing activity both in Hsd11b1-/- and C57BL/6J mice suggesting sickness behaviour.. The number of circulating immune cells, as a measure of peripheral inflammation, did not differ between genotypes. Similarly, plasma corticosterone levels were elevated following inflammation but no genotype difference was observed. However, levels of plasma 11-dehydrocorticosterone, the inert substrate for 11β- HSD1, were significantly elevated in the Hsd11b1-/-, compared to C57BL/6J mice, following inflammation. Levels of mRNA encoding inflammatory markers were lower in the hippocampus of Hsd11b1-/-, compared to C57BL/6J mice, following inflammation. Also, Hsd11b1 mRNA levels were reduced in the hippocampus of C57BL/6J mice following inflammation, consistent with the finding above. Principal component analysis on levels of mRNA encoding metabolite transporters and enzymes revealed a distinct metabolic response in the hippocampus of Hsd11b1-/-, compared to C57BL/6J mice, 6h post LPS. At the same time point in the hippocampus, levels of mRNAs encoding metabolite transporters and enzymes suggested an attenuated switch to aerobic glycolysis with maintenance of mitochondrial function/activity. Quantification of hippocampal energy metabolites using targeted metabolomics in the Hsd11b1-/- compared to C57BL/6J mice 6h post LPS showed correspondence with the mRNA results. Overall, these results suggest that reduced expression of 11β-HSD1 could be a potential mechanism to reduce the pro-inflammatory response and provide better metabolic support for neuronal function and metabolism in the hippocampus, following systemic inflammation.In summary, the current work provides evidence for neuroprotection with 11β-HSD1 deficiency, following systemic inflammation. The suggestive neuroprotection is at least in part mediated via an attenuated pro-inflammatory responses and increased energy substrate uptake and/or utilisation providing better metabolic support for neuronal function following inflammation. It argues for the development of tissue specific small molecule inhibitors of 11β-HSD1 that can cross the blood brain barrier as therapeutic agents against the adverse cognitive effects of systemic inflammation and/or inflammaging.