Cx3Cr1 Deficiency Suppresses Activation and Neurotoxicity of Microglia/Macrophage in Experimental Ischemic Stroke



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Background: Chemokine (C-X3-C motif) ligand 1 (CX3CL1)/ CX3C chemokine receptor 1 (CX3CR1) signaling is important in modulating the communication between neurons and resident microglia/migrated macrophages in the central nervous system (CNS). Although CX3CR1 deficiency is associated with an improved outcome following ischemic brain injury, the mechanism of this observation is largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate how CX3CR1 deficiency influences microglia/macrophage functions in the context of its protection following brain ischemia.Methods: Wild-type (WT) and CX3CR1-deficient (CX3CR1-/-) mice were subjected to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and reperfusion. The ischemic brain damage was monitored by rodent high-field magnetic resonance imaging. Neurological deficit was assessed daily. Neuronal apoptotic death and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were analyzed by immunostaining and live imaging. Activation/inflammatory response of microglia/macrophage were assessed using immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine labeling, cytokine ELISA, and real-time PCR.Results: CX3CR1-/- mice displayed significantly smaller infarcts and less severe neurological deficits compared to WT controls, following MCAO. In addition, CX3CR1-/- MCAO mice displayed fewer apoptotic neurons and reduced ROS levels. Impaired CX3CR1 signaling abrogated the recruitment of monocyte-derived macrophages from the periphery, suppressed the proliferation of CNS microglia and infiltrated macrophage, facilitated the alternative activation (M2 state) of microglia/macrophages, and attenuated their ability to synthesize and release inflammatory cytokines.Conclusion: Our results suggest that inhibition of CX3CR1 signaling could function as a therapeutic modality in ischemic brain injury, by reducing recruitment of peripheral macrophages and expansion/activation of CNS microglia and macrophages, resulting in protection of neurological function.

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Journal of Neuroinflammation





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