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Apoptosis and necroptosis of mouse hippocampal and parenchymal astrocytes, microglia and neurons caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection

Mengying, Zhang, Yiyue, Xu, Tong, Pan, Yue, Hu, Limpanont, Yanin, Ping, Huang, Okanurak, Kamolnetr, Yanqi, Wu, Dekumyoy, Paron, Hongli, Zhou, Watthanakulpanich, Dorn, Zhongdao, Wu, Zhi, Wang, Zhiyue, Lv
Parasites & vectors 2017 v.10 no.1 pp. 611
Parastrongylus cantonensis, Western blotting, apoptosis, astrocytes, autophagy, brain, caspase-3, caspase-4, caspase-6, cognition, flow cytometry, genes, hosts, humans, immunohistochemistry, inflammation, larvae, memory, meninges, meningoencephalitis, messenger RNA, mice, necroptosis, neurons, parasites, pathogenesis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, staining, tissues, transcription (genetics), translation (genetics), transmission electron microscopy
BACKGROUND: Angiostrongylus cantonensis has been the only parasite among Angiostrongylidae to cause human central nervous system infection characterized by eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis. The mechanism of the extensive neurological impairments of hosts caused by A. cantonensis larvae remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate apoptosis, necroptosis and autophagy in the brains of mice infected with A. cantonensis, which will be valuable for better understanding the pathogenesis of angiostrongyliasis cantonensis. METHODS: Functional and histological neurological impairments of brain tissues from mice infected with A. cantonensis were measured by the Morris water maze test and haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, respectively. The transcriptional and translational levels of apoptosis-, necroptosis- and autophagy-related genes were quantified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and assessed by western blot and immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis. Apoptotic and necroptotic cells and their distributions in infected brain tissues were analysed by flow cytometry and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). RESULTS: Inflammatory response in the central nervous system deteriorated as A. cantonensis infection evolved, as characterized by abundant inflammatory cell infiltration underneath the meninges, which peaked at 21 days post-infection (dpi). The learning and memory capacities of the mice were significantly decreased at 14 dpi, indicating prominent impairment of their cognitive functions. Compared with those of the control group, the mRNA levels of caspase-3, -4, -6, and RIP3 and the protein levels of caspase-4, cleaved caspase-3, cleaved caspase-6, RIP3, and pRIP3 were obviously elevated. However, no changes in the mRNA or protein levels of FADD, Beclin-1 or LC3B were evident, indicating that apoptosis and necroptosis, but not autophagy, occurred in the brain tissues of mice infected with A. cantonensis. The quantitative RT-PCR, western blot, IHC, flow cytometry and TEM results further revealed the apoptotic and necroptotic microglia, astrocytes and neurons in the parenchymal and hippocampal regions of infected mice. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, we showed for the first time that A. cantonensis infection causes the apoptosis and necroptosis of microglia and astrocytes in the parenchymal and hippocampal regions of host brain tissues, further demonstrating the pathogenesis of A. cantonensis infection and providing potential therapeutic targets for the management of angiostrongyliasis.