Treatment with minocycline after disease onset alters astrocyte reactivity and increases microgliosis in SOD1 mutant mice.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Exp Neurol, Volume 228, Issue 1, p.69-79 (2011)


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Animals, Astrocytes, Female, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Neurologic Mutants, Mice, Transgenic, Microglia, Minocycline, Random Allocation, Superoxide Dismutase, Treatment Outcome


<p>Several reports have demonstrated that attenuation of microglial activation by minocycline, an antimicrobial drug with anti-inflammatory properties, delays disease progression in a mouse model of ALS. However, the negative results obtained in recent clinical trials raised some questions regarding the role of inflammatory response and glial cells as a therapeutic target in ALS. To investigate this controversy we took advantage of a mouse model for live imaging of neuroinflammatory responses in ALS (GFAP-luc/ SOD1(G93A) reporter mouse) and analyzed in real time the effects of minocycline treatment initiated at different stages of the disease. To our surprise, unlike neuroprotection that is conferred when minocycline is administered pre-symptomatically, treatment with minocycline initiated after the disease onset significantly altered glial responses and exaggerated neuroinflammation. Further analysis revealed that the late minocycline treatment was associated with significant induction of the end-stage GFAP-biophotonic signals, expression levels of connexin 43, a major protein of astrocytic gap junction and markers of microglial activation, such as Iba1 and CD68. The results of our study suggest that when administered at later stages of disease, once microglial cells are chronically reactive, minocycline may not have anti-inflammatory properties, and contrary to expectations, may alter astrocyte reactivity and increase microgliosis. Finally, our results further suggest the existence of close interactions/communication between activated microglia and astrocytes in late stage ALS.</p>

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