Anti-inflammatory effects of progesterone in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV-2 microglia.


Female sex is associated with improved outcome in experimental brain injury models, such as traumatic brain injury, ischemic stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage. This implies female gonadal steroids may be neuroprotective. A mechanism for this may involve modulation of post-injury neuroinflammation. As the resident immunomodulatory cells in central nervous system, microglia are activated during acute brain injury and produce inflammatory mediators which contribute to secondary injury including proinflammatory cytokines, and nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), mediated by inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), respectively. We hypothesized that female gonadal steroids reduce microglia mediated neuroinflammation. In this study, the progesterone's effects on tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), iNOS, and COX-2 expression were investigated in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV-2 microglia. Further, investigation included nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. LPS (30 ng/ml) upregulated TNF-α, iNOS, and COX-2 protein expression in BV-2 cells. Progesterone pretreatment attenuated LPS-stimulated TNF-α, iNOS, and COX-2 expression in a dose-dependent fashion. Progesterone suppressed LPS-induced NF-κB activation by decreasing inhibitory κBα and NF-κB p65 phosphorylation and p65 nuclear translocation. Progesterone decreased LPS-mediated phosphorylation of p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular regulated kinase MAPKs. These progesterone effects were inhibited by its antagonist mifepristone. In conclusion, progesterone exhibits pleiotropic anti-inflammatory effects in LPS-stimulated BV-2 microglia by down-regulating proinflammatory mediators corresponding to suppression of NF-κB and MAPK activation. This suggests progesterone may be used as a potential neurotherapeutic to treat inflammatory components of acute brain injury.





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Publication Info

Lei, Beilei, Brian Mace, Hana N Dawson, David S Warner, Daniel T Laskowitz and Michael L James (2014). Anti-inflammatory effects of progesterone in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV-2 microglia. PLoS One, 9(7). p. e103969. 10.1371/journal.pone.0103969 Retrieved from

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Daniel Todd Laskowitz

Professor of Neurology

Our laboratory uses molecular biology, cell culture, and animal modeling techniques to examine the CNS response to acute injury. In particular, our laboratory examines the role of microglial activation and the endogenous CNS inflammatory response in exacerbating secondary injury following acute brain insult. Much of the in vitro work in this laboratory is dedicated to elucidating cellular responses to injury with the ultimate goal of exploring new therapeutic interventions in the clinical setting of stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and closed head injury.

In conjunction with the Multidisciplinary Neuroprotection Laboratories, we also focus on clinically relevant small animal models of acute CNS injury. For example, we have recently characterized murine models of closed head injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage and perinatal hypoxia-ischemia, in addition to the standard rodent models of focal stroke and transient forebrain ischemia. Recently we have adapted several of these models from the rat to the mouse to take advantage of murine transgenic technology. The objective of these studies are two-fold: to gain better insight into the cellular responses and pathophysiology of acute brain injury, and to test novel therapeutic strategies for clinical translation. In both cell culture systems and animal models, our primary focus is on examining the role of oxidative stress and inflammatory mechanism in mediating brain injury following acute brain insult, and examining the neuroprotective effects of endogenous apolipoprotein E in the injured mammalian central nervous system.

Our laboratory is committed to translational research, and has several active clinical research protocols, which are designed to bring the research performed in the Multidisciplinary Research Laboratories to the clinical arena. These protocols are centered around patients following stroke and acute brain injury, and are primarily based out of the Emergency Room and Neurocritical Care Unit. For example, we are currently examining the role of inflammatory mediators for use as a point-of-care diagnostic marker following stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and closed head injury. We have recently translated a novel apoE mimetic from the preclinical setting to a multi center Phase 2 trial evaluating efficacy in intracranial hemorrhage. We are also examining the functional role of different polymorphisms of of inflammatory cytokines in the setting of acute brain injury and neurological dysfunction following cardiopulmonary bypass.


Michael Lucas James

Professor of Anesthesiology

With a clinical background in neuroanesthesia and neurointensive care, I have a special interest in translational research in intracerebral hemorrhage and traumatic brain injury. I am fortunate to be part of a unique team of highly motivated and productive individuals who allow me to propel ideas from bench to bedside and the ability to reverse translate ideas from the bedside back to the bench.

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