Novel role of STAT3 in microglia-dependent neuroinflammation after experimental subarachnoid haemorrhage

Background and purpose

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) may contribute to the proinflammation in the central nervous system diseases by modulating the microglial responses. Thus, this study was intended to investigate the effect of STAT3 on microglia-dependent neuroinflammation and functional outcome after experimental subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH).

Methods

The SAH model was established by endovascular perforation in the mouse. Real-time PCR (RtPCR) and western blot were used to examine the dynamic STAT3 signalling pathway responses after SAH. To clarify the role of the STAT3 signalling pathway in the microglia-dependent neuroinflammation after SAH, the microglia-specific STAT3 knockout (KO) mice were generated by the Cre-LoxP system. The neurological functions were assessed by Catwalk and Morris water maze tests. Neuronal loss after SAH was determined by immunohistochemistry staining. Microglial polarisation status after STAT3 KO was then examined by RtPCR and immunofluorescence.

Results

The STAT3 and Janus kinase-signal transducer 2 activated immediately with the upregulation and phosphorylation after SAH. Downstream factors and related mediators altered dynamically and accordingly. Microglial STAT3 deletion ameliorated the neurological impairment and alleviated the early neuronal loss after SAH. To investigate the underlying mechanism, we examined the microglial reaction after STAT3 KO. STAT3 deletion reversed the increase of microglia after SAH. Loss of STAT3 triggered the early morphological changes of microglia and primed microglia from M1 to M2 polarisation. Functionally, microglial STAT3 deletion suppressed the SAH-induced proinflammation and promoted the anti-inflammation in the early phase.

Conclusions

STAT3 is closely related to the microglial polarisation transition and modulation of microglia-dependent neuroinflammation. Microglial STAT3 deletion improved neurological function and neuronal survival probably through promoting M2 polarisation and anti-inflammatory responses after SAH. STAT3 may serve as a promising therapeutic target to alleviate early brain injury after SAH.

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