Heliyon. 2023 Jul 19;9(7):e18429.doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e18429. eCollection 2023 Jul.

Upregulation of EphA4 deteriorate brain damage by shifting microglia M1-polarization via NF-κB signaling after focal cerebral ischemia in rats


Free PMC article


Ischemic stroke is the main reason of disability and mortality in many countries, and currently has limited treatments. The post-stroke inflammation characterized with microglia activation and polarization has been regarded as a promising therapeutic target for ischemic stroke. After ischemia, the activated microglia polarize to classical (M1) phenotype or alternative (M2) phenotype and exhibit biphasic function. Promoting microglia phenotype shift from deleterious M1 phenotype to neuroprotective M2 phenotype will be promising in stroke treatment. Increasing evidence indicates that the erythropoietin-producing human hepatocellular (Eph) receptor A4 (EphA4), a kind of abundant Eph receptor, distributes mainly in neuron and participates in multiple links of pathological changes after ischemia. This paper discussed the hypothesis that EphA4 receptor could affect ischemic brain injury through EphA4/ephrin bidirectional signaling between neuron and microglia, and then explored its underlying mechanisms. We manipulated EphA4/ephrin signaling with either EphA4 overexpression lentiviral vectors or the short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to upregulate or knock down neuronal EphA4 expression. NF-κB inhibitor pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate ammonium salt (PDTC) was applied to block NF-κB pathway. According to the experimental results, upregulated neuronal EphA4 induced by ischemia deteriorated neurological function as well as brain damage by shifting microglia M1-polarization via promoting NF-κB signaling.

Keywords: Ischemic stroke; Microglia polarization; NF-κB signaling; Neuronal EphA4; Post-stroke inflammation.