Brain inflammation including increases in inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β is widely believed to contribute to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Although IL-1β-induced impairments in long-term potentiation (LTP) in acute hippocampal slices and memory functions in vivo have been well documented, the neuron-specific molecular mechanisms of IL-1β-mediated impairments of LTP and memory remain unclear.
This study uses an in vitro approach in primary hippocampal neurons to evaluate the effect of IL-1β on chemical LTP (cLTP)-induced structural plasticity and signaling.
We found that IL-1β reduces both the surface expression of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor subunit GluA1 and the spine growth following cLTP. These effects of IL-1β were mediated by impairing actin polymerization during cLTP, as IL-1β decreased the cLTP-induced formation of F-actin, and the effect of IL-1β on cLTP-induced surface expression of GluA1 can be mimicked by latrunculin, a toxin that disrupts dynamics of actin filaments, and can be prevented by jasplakinolide, a cell-permeable peptide that stabilizes F-actin. Moreover, live-cell imaging demonstrated that IL-1β decreased the stability of the actin cytoskeleton in spines, which is required for LTP consolidation. We further examined the role of sphingolipid signaling in the IL-1β-mediated impairment of spine plasticity and found that both the neutral sphingomyelinase inhibitor GW4869 and the inhibitor of Src kinase PP2 attenuated the IL-1β-mediated suppression of cLTP-induced surface expression of GluA1 and actin polymerization.
These findings support a mechanism by which IL-1β, via the sphingomyelinase/ceramide/Src pathway, impairs structural spine remodeling essential for LTP consolidation and memory.