BACKGROUND: The p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is a well-characterized intracellular kinase involved in the overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines from glia. As such, p38α appears to be a promising therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases associated with neuroinflammation. However, the in vivo role of p38α in cytokine production in the CNS is poorly defined, and prior work suggests that p38α may be affecting a yet to be identified negative feedback mechanism that limits the acute, injury-induced proinflammatory cytokine surge in the CNS.

METHODS: To attempt to define this negative feedback mechanism, we used two in vitro and two in vivo models of neuroinflammation in a mouse where p38α is deficient in cells of the myeloid lineage.

RESULTS: We found that p38α in myeloid cells has an important role in limiting amplitude of the acute proinflammatory cytokine response to a systemic inflammatory challenge. Moreover, we identified IL-10 as a potential negative feedback mechanism regulated by p38α.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that p38α regulates a proper balance between the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine responses to systemic inflammation, and that if circulating IL-10 levels are not elevated to counter-balance the increased systemic proinflammatory responses, the spread of the inflammatory response from the periphery to the CNS is exaggerated.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Neuroinflammation, v. 11, article 175, p. 1-11.

© 2014 Bachstetter et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Funding Information

This research was supported in part by an Alzheimer’s Association Zenith award ZEN-09-134506 (LVE) and NIH grants R01 NS064247 (LVE), F32 AG037280 (ADB), and K99 AG044445 (ADB).