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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version from Frontiers Media in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience Volume 12, October 2018, Article number 365.

The published version is available at Copyright © Cardona et al.


Multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) is the leading cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in young adults. Immune mediated destruction of myelin and oligodendrocytes is considered the primary pathology of MS, but progressive axonal loss is the major cause of neurological disability. In an effort to understand microglia function during CNS inflammation, our laboratory focuses on the fractalkine/CX3CR1 signaling as a regulator of microglia neurotoxicity in various models of neurodegeneration. Fractalkine (FKN) is a transmembrane chemokine expressed in the CNS by neurons and signals through its unique receptor CX3CR1 present in microglia. During experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), CX3CR1 deficiency confers exacerbated disease defined by severe inflammation and neuronal loss. The CX3CR1 human polymorphism I249/M280 present in ∼20% of the population exhibits reduced adhesion for FKN conferring defective signaling whose role in microglia function and influence on neurons during MS remains unsolved. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of weaker signaling through hCX3CR1I249/M280 during EAE. We hypothesize that dysregulated microglial responses due to impaired CX3CR1 signaling enhance neuronal/axonal damage. We generated an animal model replacing the mouse CX3CR1 locus for the hCX3CR1I249/M280 variant. Upon EAE induction, these mice exhibited exacerbated EAE correlating with severe inflammation and neuronal loss. We also observed that mice with aberrant CX3CR1 signaling are unable to produce FKN and ciliary neurotrophic factor during EAE in contrast to wild type mice. Our results provide validation of defective function of the hCX3CR1I249/M280 variant and the foundation to broaden the understanding of microglia dysfunction during neuroinflammation. © 2018 Cardona et al.

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