Sepsis-associated brain injury (SABI) is characterized by an acute deterioration of mental status resulting in cognitive impairment and acquisition of new and persistent functional limitations in sepsis survivors. Previously, we reported that septic mice had evidence of axonal injury, robust microglial activation, and cytotoxic edema in the cerebral cortex, thalamus, and hippocampus in the absence of blood-brain barrier disruption. A key conceptual advance in the field was identification of sulfonylurea receptor 1 (SUR1), a member of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding cassette protein superfamily, that associates with the transient receptor potential melastatin 4 (TRPM4) cation channel to play a crucial role in cerebral edema development. Therefore, we hypothesized that knockout (KO) of Abcc8 (Sur1 gene) is associated with a decrease in microglial activation, cerebral edema, and improved neurobehavioral outcomes in a murine cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model of sepsis. Sepsis was induced in 4-6-week-old Abcc8 KO and wild-type (WT) littermate control male mice by CLP. We used immunohistochemistry to define neuropathology and microglial activation along with parallel studies using magnetic resonance imaging, focusing on cerebral edema on days 1 and 4 after CLP. Abcc8 KO mice exhibited a decrease in axonal injury and cytotoxic edema vs. WT on day 1. Abcc8 KO mice also had decreased microglial activation in the cerebral cortex vs. WT. These findings were associated with improved spatial memory on days 7-8 after CLP. Our study challenges a key concept in sepsis and suggests that brain injury may not occur merely as an extension of systemic inflammation. We advance the field further and demonstrate that deletion of the SUR1 gene ameliorates CNS pathobiology in sepsis including edema, axonal injury, neuroinflammation, and behavioral deficits. Benefits conferred by Abcc8 KO in the murine CLP model warrant studies of pharmacological Abcc8 inhibition as a new potential therapeutic strategy for SABI.
© 2023. The Author(s).