Lipocalin 2 (LCN2) is a pleiotropic molecule that is induced in the central nervous system (CNS) in several acute and chronic pathologies. The acute induction of LCN2 evolved as a beneficial process, aimed at combating bacterial infection through the sequestration of iron from pathogens, while the role of LCN2 during chronic, non-infectious disease remains unclear, and recent studies suggest that LCN2 is neurotoxic. However, whether LCN2 is sufficient to induce behavioral and cognitive alterations remains unclear. In this paper, we sought to address the role of cerebral LCN2 on cognition in both acute and chronic settings. We demonstrate that LCN2 is robustly induced in the CNS during both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, including LPS-based sepsis and cancer cachexia. In vivo, LPS challenge results in a global induction of LCN2 in the central nervous system, while cancer cachexia results in a distribution specific to the vasculature. Similar to these in vivo observations, in vitro modeling demonstrated that both glia and cerebral endothelium produce and secrete LCN2 when challenged with LPS, while only cerebral endothelium secrete LCN2 when challenged with cancer-conditioned medium. Chronic, but not short-term, cerebral LCN2 exposure resulted in reduced hippocampal neuron staining intensity, an increase in newborn neurons, microglial activation, and increased CNS immune cell infiltration, while gene set analyses suggested these effects were mediated through melanocortin-4 receptor independent mechanisms. RNA sequencing analyses of primary hippocampal neurons revealed a distinct transcriptome associated with prolonged LCN2 exposure, and ontology analysis was suggestive of altered neurite growth and abnormal spatial learning. Indeed, LCN2-treated hippocampal neurons display blunted neurite processes, and mice exposed to prolonged cerebral LCN2 levels experienced a reduction in spatial reference memory as indicated by Y-maze assessment. These findings implicate LCN2 as a pathologic mediator of cognitive decline in the setting of chronic disease.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.