Chemokines produced by reactive glia drive migration of immune cells and previous studies from our laboratory have demonstrated that CD19(+) B cells infiltrate the brain. In this study, in vivo and in vitro experiments investigated the role of reactive glial cells in recruitment and survival of B-lineage cells in response to (murine cytomegalovirus) MCMV infection.
Flow cytometric analysis was used to assess chemokine receptor expression on brain-infiltrating B cells. Real-time RT-PCR and ELISA were used to measure chemokine levels. Dual-immunohistochemical staining was used to co-localize chemokine production by reactive glia. Primary glial cell cultures and migration assays were used to examine chemokine-mediated recruitment. Astrocyte: B cell co-cultures were used to investigate survival and proliferation.
The chemokine receptors CXCR3, CXCR5, CCR5, and CCR7 were detected on CD19(+) cells isolated from the brain during MCMV infection. In particular, CXCR3 was found to be elevated on an increasing number of cells over the time course of infection, and it was the primary chemokine receptor expressed at 60 days post infection Quite different expression kinetics were observed for CXCR5, CCR5, and CCR7, which were elevated on the highest number of cells early during infection and decreased by 14, 30, and 60 days post infection Correspondingly, elevated levels of CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL13, as well as CCL5, were found within the brains of infected animals, and only low levels of CCL3 and CCL19 were detected. Differential expression of CXCL9/CXCL10 and CXCL13 between microglia and astrocytes was apparent, and B cells moved towards supernatants from MCMV-infected microglia, but not astrocytes. Pretreatment with neutralizing Abs to CXCL9 and CXCL10 inhibited this migration. In contrast, neutralizing Abs to the ligand of CXCR5 (i.e., CXCL13) did not significantly block chemotaxis. Proliferation of brain-infiltrating B cells was detected at 7 days post infection and persisted through the latest time tested (60 days post infection). Finally, astrocytes produce BAFF (B cell activating factor of the TNF family) and promote proliferation of B cells via cell-to-cell contact.
CXCR3 is the primary chemokine receptor on CD19(+) B cells persisting within the brain, and migration to microglial cell supernatants is mediated through this receptor. Correspondingly, microglial cells produce CXCL9 and CXCL10, but not CXCL13. Reactive astrocytes promote B cell proliferation.