A deep knowledge of the profound immunological response induced by traumatic brain injury (TBI) raises the possibility of novel therapeutic interventions. Existing studies have highlighted the important roles of C-C motif ligands in the development of neuroinflammation after brain injury; however, the participation of macrophage inflammatory protein-1 (MIP-1) family members in this phenomenon is still undefined. Therefore, the goal of our study was to evaluate changes in macrophage inflammatory protein-1 (MIP-1) family members (CCL3, CCL4, and CCL9) and their receptors (CCR1 and CCR5) in a mouse model of TBI (induced by controlled cortical impact (CCI)). We also investigated the pattern of activation of immunological cells (such as neutrophils, microglia and astroglia), which on one hand express CCR1/CCR5, and on the other hand might be a source of the tested chemokines in the injured brain. We investigated changes in mRNA (RT-qPCR) and/or protein (ELISA and Western blot) expression in brain structures (the cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, and striatum) at different time points (24 h, 4 days, 7 days, 2 weeks, and/or 5 weeks) after trauma. Our time-course studies revealed the upregulation of the mRNA expression of all members of the MIP-1 family (CCL3, CCL4, and CCL9) in all tested brain structures, mainly in the early stages after injury. A similar pattern of activation was observed at the protein level in the cortex and thalamus, where the strongest activation was observed 1 day after CCI; however, we did not observe any change in CCL3 in the thalamus. Analyses of CCR1 and CCR5 demonstrated the upregulation of the mRNA expression of both receptors in all tested cerebral structures, mainly in the early phases post injury (24 h, 4 days and 7 days). Protein analysis showed the upregulation of CCR1 and CCR5 in the thalamus 24 h after TBI, but we did not detect any change in the cortex. We also observed the upregulation of neutrophil marker (MPO) at the early time points (24 h and 7 days) in the cortex, while the profound activation of microglia (IBA-1) and astroglia (GFAP) was observed mainly on day 7. Our findings highlight for the first time that CCL3, CCL4, CCL9 and their receptors offer promising targets for influencing secondary neuronal injury and improving TBI therapy. The results suggest that the MIP-1 family is an important target for pharmacological intervention for brain injury.
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