JNK signaling is the shared pathway linking neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier disruption, and oligodendroglial apoptosis in the white matter injury of the immature brain

Lan Wan Wang, Yi Fang Tu, Chao Ching Huang, Chien Jung Ho

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Background: White matter injury is the major form of brain damage in very preterm infants. Selective white matter injury in the immature brain can be induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-sensitized hypoxic-ischemia (HI) in the postpartum (P) day 2 rat pups whose brain maturation status is equivalent to that in preterm infants less than 30 weeks of gestation. Neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier (BBB) damage and oligodendrocyte progenitor apoptosis may affect the susceptibility of LPS-sensitized HI in white matter injury. c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) are important stress-responsive kinases in various forms of insults. We hypothesized that LPS-sensitized HI causes white matter injury through JNK activation-mediated neuroinflammation, BBB leakage and oligodendroglial apoptosis in the white matter of P2 rat pups.Methods: P2 pups received LPS (0.05 mg/kg) or normal saline injection followed by 90-min HI. Immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting were used to determine microglia activation, TNF-α, BBB damage, cleaved caspase-3, JNK and phospho-JNK (p-JNK), myelin basic protein (MBP), and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression. Immunofluorescence was performed to determine the cellular distribution of p-JNK. Pharmacological and genetic approaches were used to inhibit JNK activity.Results: P2 pups had selective white matter injury associated with upregulation of activated microglia, TNF-α, IgG extravasation and oligodendroglial progenitor apoptosis after LPS-sensitized HI. Immunohistochemical analyses showed early and sustained JNK activation in the white matter at 6 and 24 h post-insult. Immunofluorescence demonstrated upregulation of p-JNK in activated microglia, vascular endothelial cells and oligodendrocyte progenitors, and also showed perivascular aggregation of p-JNK-positive cells around the vessels 24 h post-insult. JNK inhibition by AS601245 or by antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) significantly reduced microglial activation, TNF-α immunoreactivity, IgG extravasation, and cleaved caspase-3 in the endothelial cells and oligodendrocyte progenitors, and also attenuated perivascular aggregation of p-JNK-positive cells 24 h post-insult. The AS601245 or JNK antisense ODN group had significantly increased MBP and decreased GFAP expression in the white matter on P11 than the vehicle or scrambled ODN group.Conclusions: LPS-sensitized HI causes white matter injury through JNK activation-mediated upregulation of neuroinflammation, BBB leakage and oligodendrocyte progenitor apoptosis in the immature brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number175
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Publication statusPublished - Jul 17 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • Apoptosis
  • Blood-brain barrier damage
  • Immature brain
  • JNK
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Oligodendrocyte progenitor
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • White matter injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Immunology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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