CNS-Specific Synthesis of Interleukin 23 Induces a Progressive Cerebellar Ataxia and the Accumulation of Both T and B Cells in the Brain: Characterization of a Novel Transgenic Mouse Model.
Interleukin 23 (IL-23) is a key mediator in neuroinflammation in numerous autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the pathophysiology of IL-23 and how it contributes to neuroinflammation is poorly defined. To further clarify the role of IL-23 in CNS inflammation, we generated a transgenic mouse model (GF-IL23) with astrocyte-targeted expression of both IL-23 subunits, IL-23p19, and IL-23p40. These GF-IL23 mice spontaneously develop a progressive ataxic phenotype, which corresponds to cerebellar tissue destruction, and inflammatory infiltrates most prominent in the subarachnoidal and perivascular space. The CNS-cytokine milieu was characterized by numerous inflammatory mediators such as IL-17a and IFNγ. However, the leukocytic infiltrates were surprisingly predominated by B cells. To further examine the impact of the CNS-specific IL-23 synthesis on an additional systemic inflammatory stimulus, we applied the LPS-induced endotoxemia model. Administration of LPS in GF-IL23 mice resulted in early and pronounced microglial activation, enhanced cytokine production and, in sharp contrast to control animals, in the formation of lymphocytic infiltrates. Our model confirms a critical role for IL-23 in the induction of inflammation in the CNS, in particular facilitating the accumulation of lymphocytes in and around the brain. Thereby, CNS-specific synthesis of IL-23 is able to induce a cascade of inflammatory cytokines leading to microglia activation, astrocytosis, and ultimately tissue damage. The presented transgenic model will be a useful tool to further dissect the role of IL-23 in neuroinflammation.