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Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans prevent immune cell phenotypic conversion and inflammation resolution via TLR4 in rodent models of spinal cord injury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Elizabeth Bradbury, Isaac Francos Quijorna, Emily Burnside, Smaranda Badea, Lucy Marshall, Marina Sánchez-Petidier, Victoria Moreno-Manzano, Abel Torres-Espin, Fred de Winter, Joost Verhaagen

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Communications
Accepted/In press9 May 2022

King's Authors

Abstract

Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) act as potent inhibitors of axonal growth and neuroplasticity after spinal cord injury (SCI). Here we reveal that CSPGs also play a critical role in preventing inflammation resolution by blocking the conversion of pro-inflammatory immune cells to a pro-repair phenotype. We demonstrate that enzymatic digestion of CSPG glycosaminoglycans enhances immune cell clearance and reduces pro-inflammatory protein and gene expression profiles at key resolution time points. Analysis of phenotypically distinct immune cell clusters revealed CSPG-mediated modulation of macrophage and microglial subtypes which, together with T lymphocyte infiltration and composition changes, suggests a role for CSPGs in modulating both innate and adaptive immune responses. Mechanistically, CSPG activation of a pro-inflammatory phenotype in pro-repair immune cells was found to be TLR4-dependent, identifying TLR4 signalling as a key driver of CSPG-mediated immune modulation. These findings establish CSPGs as critical mediators of inflammation resolution failure after SCI, which leads to prolonged inflammatory pathology and irreversible tissue destruction.

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