C/EBPβ regulates multiple IL-1β-induced human astrocyte inflammatory genes

Jerel Fields, Anuja Ghorpade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: CCAAT enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP)β regulates gene expression in multiple organ systems and cell types, including astrocytes in the central nervous system (CNS). Inflammatory stimuli, interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and lipopolysaccharide induce astrocyte C/EBPβ expression. C/EBPβ is detectable in brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD) patients, yet little is known about how C/EBPβ contributes to astrocyte gene regulation during neuroinflammation.Methods: The expression of 92 human inflammation genes was compared between IL-1β-treated primary human astrocytes and astrocytes transfected with C/EBPβ-specific small interfering (si)RNA prior to IL-1β treatment for 12 h. Transcripts altered by > two-fold compared to control were subjected to one-way analysis of variance and Newman-Keuls post-test for multiple comparisons. Expression of two genes, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and bradykinin receptor B2 (BDKRB2) was further confirmed in additional human astrocyte donors. Astrocytes were treated with mitogen-activated protein kinase-selective inhibitors, then with IL-1β for 12 or 24 h followed by COX-2 and BDKRB2, expression analyses.Results: IL-1β altered expression of 29 of 92 human inflammation genes by at least two-fold in primary human astrocytes in 12 h. C/EBPβ knockdown affected expression of 17 out of 29 IL-1β-regulated genes by > 25%. Two genes relevant to neuroinflammation, COX-2 and BDKRB2, were robustly decreased and increased, respectively, in response to C/EBPβ knockdown, and expression was confirmed in two additional donors. COX-2 and BDKRB2 mRNA remained altered in siRNA-transfected astrocytes at 12, 24 or 72 h. Inhibiting p38 kinase (p38K) activation blocked IL-1β-induced astrocyte COX-2 mRNA and protein expression, but not IL-1β-induced astrocyte BDKRB2 expression. Inhibiting extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 activation blocked IL-1β-induced BDKRB2 mRNA expression while increasing COX-2 expression.Conclusion: These data support an essential role for IL-1β in the CNS and identify new C/EBPβ functions in astrocytes. Additionally, this work suggests p38K and ERK1/2 pathways may regulate gene expression in a complementary manner to fine tune the IL-1β-mediated astrocyte inflammatory response. Delineating a role for C/EBPβ and other involved transcription factors in human astrocyte inflammatory response may lead to effective therapies for AD, PD, HAD and other neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number597
JournalJournal of neuroinflammation
StatePublished - 20 Jul 2012


  • Astrocyte
  • C/EBPβ
  • ERK1/2
  • Interleukin-1β
  • P38k


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