Interleukin-1β-dependent signaling between astrocytes and neurons depends critically on astrocytic calcineurin/NFAT activity

Michelle A. Sama, Diana M. Mathis, Jennifer L. Furman, Hafiz Mohmmad Abdul, Irina A. Artiushin, Susan D. Kraner, Christopher M. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Interleukin-1β(IL-1β) and the Ca2+/calmodulin- dependent protein phosphatase, calcineurin, have each been shown to play an important role in neuroinflammation. However, whether these signaling molecules interact to coordinate immune/inflammatory processes and neurodegeneration has not been investigated. Here, we show that exogenous application of IL-1β (10 ng/ml) recruited calcineurin/NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) activation in primary astrocyte-enriched cultures within minutes, through a pathway involving IL-1 receptors and L-type Ca2+ channels. Adenovirus-mediated delivery of the NFAT inhibitor, VIVIT, suppressed the IL-1β-dependent induction of several inflammatory mediators and/or markers of astrocyte activation, including tumor necrosis factor α, granulocyte/ macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and vimentin. Expression of an activated form of calcineurin in one set of astrocyte cultures also triggered the release of factors that, in turn, stimulated NFAT activity in a second set of "naive" astrocytes. This effect was prevented when calcineurin-expressing cultures co-expressed VIVIT, suggesting that the calcineurin/ NFATpathway coordinates positive feedback signaling between astrocytes. In the presence of astrocytes and neurons, 48-h delivery of IL-1β was associated with several excitotoxic effects, including NMDA receptor-dependent neuronal death, elevated extracellular glutamate, and hyperexcitable synaptic activity. Each of these effects were reversed or ameliorated by targeted delivery of VIVIT to astrocytes. IL-1β also caused an NFAT-dependent reduction in excitatory amino acid transporter levels, indicating a possible mechanism for IL-1β-mediated excitotoxicity. Taken together, the results have potentially important implications for the propagation and maintenance of neuroinflammatory signaling processes associated with many neurodegenerative conditions and diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21953-21964
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 8 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Interleukin-1β-dependent signaling between astrocytes and neurons depends critically on astrocytic calcineurin/NFAT activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this