High cholesterol diet results in increased expression of interleukin-6 and caspase-1 in the brain of apolipoprotein E knockout and wild type mice

S M A Rahman, A-M Van Dam, M Schultzberg, M Crisby

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Inflammation in the central nervous system is an early hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, increasing evidence suggests that hypercholesterolemia during midlife and abnormalities in the cholesterol metabolism could have an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. In the present study, we have evaluated the effect of high cholesterol (HC) diet on the expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cytokine involved in neurodegeneration, and caspase-1, that is responsible for the cleavage of the precursors of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and interleukin-18 (IL-18) in the brain of apolipoprotein E (Apo E) knock-out (KO) and wild type (WT) mice. The density of IL-6-positive cells was increased in the hippocampus (p<0.0001) and the dorsal part of the cortex (p<0.001) of KO and WT mice on HC diet (KOHC and WTHC mice, respectively) compared to KO and WT mice on ND (KOND and WTND mice, respectively). KOHC mice had increased caspase-1 positive cells and staining intensity in the hippocampus in comparison with WTHC mice (p<0.01). In the hippocampus, the density of caspase-1 positive cells was also higher in KOHC compared to KOND mice (p<0.05) and KOHC compared with WTHC mice (p<0.01). There was a major increase in caspase-1 immunoreactivity and cell density in both the dosal part of the cortex (p<0.001) and the lateral part of the cortex (p<0.005) in KO and WT mice on HC diet compared to ND. The findings of the present study indicate that chronic exposure to HC diet increases the expression of the two important inflammatory mediators IL-6 and caspase-1 in the brain of KO and WT mice. In the case of caspase-1, we report a major difference in the effect of HC diet on the KO mice compared to WT mice in the hippocampus. Increased expression of inflammatory mediators involved in neurodegeneration could be a potential mechanism by which hypercholesterolemia and HC diet increase the risk of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

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