Vasconcellos LRC, Martimiano L, Dantas DP, Fonseca FM, Mata-Santos H, Travassos L, Mendez-Otero R, Bozza MT, Pimentel-Coelho PM. Intracerebral Injection of Heme Induces Lipid Peroxidation, Neuroinflammation, and Sensorimotor Deficits. Stroke. 2021 May;52(5):1788-1797.
Background and purpose: Heme is a red blood cell component released in the brain parenchyma following intracerebral hemorrhage. However, the study of the pathophysiological mechanisms triggered by heme in the brain is hampered by the lack of well-established in vivo models of intracerebral heme injection. This study aims to optimize and characterize a protocol of intrastriatal heme injection in mice, with a focus on the induction of lipid peroxidation, neuroinflammation and, ultimately, sensorimotor deficits. We also evaluated the involvement of NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR-, and pyrin domain-containing protein 3), an inflammasome sensor, in the behavior deficits induced by heme in this model.
Methods: Mice were injected with heme in the striatum for the evaluation of neuroinflammation and brain damage through histological and biochemical techniques. Immunoblot was used to evaluate the expression of proteins involved in heme/iron metabolism and antioxidant responses and the activation of the MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signaling pathway. For the assessment of neurological function, we followed-up heme-injected mice for 2 weeks using the rotarod, elevated body swing, and cylinder tests. Mice injected with the vehicle (sham), or autologous blood were used as controls.
Results: Heme induced lipid peroxidation and inflammation in the brain. Moreover, heme increased the expression of HO-1 (heme oxygenase-1), ferritin, p62, and superoxide dismutase 2, and activated the MAPK signaling pathway promoting pro-IL (interleukin)-1β production and its cleavage to the active form. Heme-injected mice exhibited signs of brain damage and reactive astrogliosis around the injection site. Behavior deficits were observed after heme or autologous blood injection in comparison to sham-operated controls. In addition, behavior deficits and IL-1β production were reduced in Nlrp3 knockout mice in comparison to wild-type mice.
Conclusions: Our results show that intracerebral heme injection induces neuroinflammation, and neurological deficits, in an NLRP3-dependent manner, suggesting that this is a feasible model to evaluate the role of heme in neurological.
Keywords: behavior; blood cells; cerebral hemorrhage; heme; inflammation.