Temporal expression of IL-1beta protein and mRNA in the brain after systemic LPS injection is affected by age and estrogen. Academic Article uri icon


  • Estrogen has been shown to suppress neural inflammation in vivo in response to intracerebral LPS injections or by intraparenchymal injections of NMDA. Using the latter approach, we have shown that estrogen suppresses inflammatory cytokine expression in lesioned ovariectomized young adult females but not reproductive senescent animals. However, in cultured microglia derived from either young or senescent animals, estrogen fails to suppress LPS-induced cytokine expression. These data suggest that estrogen's effects on the neural inflammatory response may result from its actions on blood-borne immune cells or its actions at the blood brain barrier or both. This hypothesis was directly tested here using a systemic injury model and comparing the neural inflammatory response in the olfactory bulb, which is protected by the blood brain barrier, and in the pituitary gland, which is incompletely protected by the blood brain barrier. Young and senescent Sprague-Dawley female rats were ovariectomized and replaced with either an estrogen or placebo pellet. Three weeks later, animals received a single i.p. injection of LPS (or vehicle) and were terminated 0.5, 2 or 3h later. Systemic injections of LPS increased IL-1beta expression in the liver in a time-dependent manner in young and senescent females. In young adults, LPS increased cytokine expression in both the bulb and the pituitary gland. However, estrogen treatment attenuated IL-1beta expression in the olfactory bulb but not in the pituitary gland. In senescent animals, estrogen completely suppressed IL-1beta expression in the bulb and the pituitary gland, while placebo-replaced animals responded normally. This age-related difference in cytokine induction by LPS was also seen in mRNA regulation, such that LPS induced IL-1beta mRNA in the olfactory bulb of young adults but not in the senescent female. Age and hormone effects on pituitary cytokines were also mirrored in plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels, such that estrogen treatment to senescent females attenuated LPS-induced CORT. These data suggest that the central inflammatory response to a systemic insult can be modulated by estrogen although the mechanism underlying the initiation of this response varies with reproductive age.

published proceedings

  • J Neuroimmunol

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, A. B., Bake, S., Lewis, D. K., & Sohrabji, F

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, Adam B||Bake, Shameena||Lewis, Danielle K||Sohrabji, Farida

publication date

  • March 2006