The host immune/inflammatory response following CNS infection by Klebsiella pneumoniae remains poorly understood. Using a rat model of K. pneumoniae meningoencephalitis, we investigated the temporal profiles of brain proinflammatory cytokines and their cellular sources. Leukocyte counts significantly increased in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at 2 h after K. pneumoniae inoculation into the rat brain but were still much lower than blood leukocyte counts. However, concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and IL-6 in CSF were much higher than the simultaneously collected serum levels. The rapid increase in brain expression of these cytokines at the messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels occurred earlier than the onset of leukocytosis. Double immunofluorescence staining revealed the presence of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in astrocytes and microglia. Exposure of primary culture of glial cells to K. pneumoniae also resulted in time-dependent increases in the concentration of these cytokines in the culture media. Taken together, our results suggest that glial cells are an important early source of proinflammatory cytokines during K. pneumonia infection of CNS.
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