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Title: Investigation into the epigenetic mechanisms involved in microglial activation in the animal model of multiple sclerosis
Author: Lam Haces Gil, Karla G.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), microglia become activated due to the autoimmune inflammatory response which is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). Following the first disease relapse, microglia remain activated and do not return to a resting state during remissions. Chronically-activated microglia release inflammatory mediators that cause CNS tissue damage, and as such, MS progression has been associated with widespread, chronic microglial activation that correlates with neurodegeneration. To date, only one histone demethylase, Jmjd3, has been described to have a role in inflammation. In agreement with this, up-regulation of Jmjd3 expression was observed following microglial treatment with several pro-inflammatory stimuli, including a range of toll-like receptors ligands and cytokines, suggesting a universal role of Jmjd3 during microglial activation. Subsequent ChIP-qPCR assays revealed that Jmjd3 was recruited to the promoters of Il6, Ccl3, Ccl5 and Nos2 following activation, which, in turn, presented a decrease in their H3K27me3 levels. Using an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model of MS, Jmjd3 expression was shown to be increased in activated microglia from mice in the acute and late phases of disease. Immunization with complete Freud’s adjuvant (CFA) alone, also caused microglial activation with Jmjd3 induction, indicating a CFA-mediated TLR2 and TLR4 stimulation of microglia. Further investigation, in which primary microglia were isolated from mice deficient in Jmjd3 (Jmjd3-/-), however demonstrated that the absence of Jmjd3 alone had no resultant effect on the expression of a subset of immune response and inflammation related genes, including the Jmjd3 target genes Il6, Ccl3, Ccl5 and Nos2, before or after activation. This suggested that Jmjd3 acts in concert with a repertoire of other demethylases to facilitate microglia activation, and as such was rendered redundant in this setting. Deciphering the epigenetic profile of microglia in MS and determining whether it is involved in the maintenance of chronic microglial activation in the progressive phase of the disease remains an important line of investigation, and through a clearer understanding of its role in MS pathophysiology, could lead to the development of novel therapeutic interventions in the future.
Supervisor: Fugger, Lars Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis ; Epigenetics ; Microglia