Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces inflammatory responses through microglial activation and polarization towards a more inflammatory state that contributes to the deleterious secondary brain injury. Glia maturation factor (GMF) is a pro-inflammatory protein that is responsible for neuroinflammation following insult to the brain, such as in TBI. We hypothesized that the absence of GMF in GMF-knockout (GMF-KO) mice would regulate microglial activation state and the M1/M2 phenotypes following TBI. We used the weight drop model of TBI in C57BL/6 mice wild-type (WT) and GMF-KO mice. Immunofluorescence staining, Western blot, and ELISA assays were performed to confirm TBI-induced histopathological and neuroinflammatory changes. Behavioral analysis was done to check motor coordination ability and cognitive function. We demonstrated that the deletion of GMF in GMF-KO mice significantly limited lesion volume, attenuated neuronal loss, inhibited gliosis, and activated microglia adopted predominantly anti-inflammatory (M2) phenotypes. Using an ELISA method, we found a gradual decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6) and upregulation of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10) in GMF-KO mice compared with WT mice, thus, promoting the transition of microglia towards a more predominantly anti-inflammatory (M2) phenotype. GMF-KO mice showed significant improvement in motor ability, memory, and cognition. Overall, our results demonstrate that GMF deficiency regulates microglial polarization, which ameliorates neuronal injury and behavioral impairments following TBI in mice and concludes that GMF is a regulator of neuroinflammation and an ideal therapeutic target for the treatment of TBI.

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PubMed