Intrauterine infection (chorioamnionitis) aggravates neonatal hypoxic-ischemic (HI) brain injury, but the mechanisms linking systemic inflammation to the CNS damage remain uncertain. Here we report evidence for brain influx of T-helper 17 (TH17)-like lymphocytes to coordinate neuroinflammatory responses in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-sensitized HI injury in neonates. We found that both infants with histological chorioamnionitis and rat pups challenged by LPS/HI have elevated expression of the interleukin-23 (IL-23) receptor, a marker of early TH17 lymphocytes, in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Post-LPS/HI administration of FTY720 (fingolimod), a sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor agonist that blocks lymphocyte trafficking, mitigated the influx of leukocytes through the choroid plexus and acute induction of nuclear factor-κB signaling in the brain. Subsequently, the FTY720 treatment led to attenuated blood-brain barrier damage, fewer cluster of differentiation 4-positive, IL-17A-positive T-cells in the brain, less proinflammatory cytokine, and better preservation of growth and white matter functions. The FTY720 treatment also provided dose-dependent reduction of brain atrophy, rescuing >90% of LPS/HI-induced brain tissue loss. Interestingly, FTY720 neither opposed pure-HI brain injury nor directly inhibited microglia in both in vivo and in vitro models, highlighting its unique mechanism against inflammation-sensitized HI injury. Together, these results suggest that the dual hit of systemic inflammation and neonatal HI injury triggers early onset of the TH17/IL-17-mediated immunity, which causes severe brain destruction but responds remarkably to the therapeutic blockade of lymphocyte trafficking.
- Adaptive immunity
- Choroid plexus