Vascular Protection via Alpha5beta1 Integrin Inhibition during Neuroinflammation

  • Bix, Gregory (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by demyelination and degeneration of axons in the central nervous system (CNS). Compelling evidence suggests that breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and angiogenic remodeling occur at an early stage of MS as well as in the animal model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and is central to the initiation and maintenance of disease pathogenesis by affording leukocyte infiltration into the brain parenchyma. This vascular remodeling, in turn, is strongly influenced by the interaction between extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and their endothelial integrin cell surface receptors. In particular, the ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ƒnintegrin and its ligand fibronectin are strongly upregulated on remodeling cerebral vessels in animal models of ischemic stroke and MS, and transgenic mice lacking this receptor in endothelial cells (ƒÑ5-EC-KO mice) show delayed and reduced angiogenic remodeling in response to hypoxia. Therefore, we hypothesize that the endothelial ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin is an important trigger of cerebrovascular remodeling. Intriguingly, our recent studies in an experimental stroke model showed that ƒÑ5-EC-KO mice are profoundly resistant to BBB breakdown, resulting in dramatic reductions in size of ischemic infarct. Pharmacological blockade of ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin in wild-type (WT) mice achieved similar protection. These studies also suggested that protection may be a result of increased expression of claudin-5, a tight junction protein and critical component of the BBB. As BBB breakdown, angiogenesis, and increased expression of endothelial ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin occur at an early stage of MS and EAE, we now plan to test the hypothesis that inhibition of endothelial ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin stabilizes the BBB and reduces leukocyte infiltration in demyelinating disease. Our hypothesis will be tested in two specific aims: (1) determine whether genetic deletion or pharmacological blockade of ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin on endothelial cells stabilizes the BBB, resulting in reduced neuroinflammation and demyelination in the EAE model, and 2) determine the molecular mechanism whereby ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin inhibition promotes BBB integrity and subsequent resistance to EAE. We expect to demonstrate that inhibition of ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin in endothelial cells confers robust resistance to EAE by increasing BBB integrity through stabilization of tight junction proteins and suppression of the leukocyte-homing adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. Successful completion of these studies will further our goal of developing endothelial ƒÑƒ¥ƒÒƒ¡ integrin as a novel MS therapeutic target.
Effective start/end date1/15/1611/30/18


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