Vesicular HMGB1 release from neurons stressed with spreading depolarization enables confined inflammatory signaling to astrocytes

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Kaya Z., Belder N., Sever-Bahcekapili M., Donmez-Demir B., Erdener Ş. E., Bozbeyoglu N., ...More

Journal of Neuroinflammation, vol.20, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12974-023-02977-6
  • Journal Name: Journal of Neuroinflammation
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: HMGB1, Inflammation, Neuronal extracellular vesicles, Spreading depolarization
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The role of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in inflammation is well characterized in the immune system and in response to tissue injury. More recently, HMGB1 was also shown to initiate an “inflammatory signaling cascade” in the brain parenchyma after a mild and brief disturbance, such as cortical spreading depolarization (CSD), leading to headache. Despite substantial evidence implying a role for inflammatory signaling in prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders such as migraine and depression, how HMGB1 is released from healthy neurons and how inflammatory signaling is initiated in the absence of apparent cell injury are not well characterized. We triggered a single cortical spreading depolarization by optogenetic stimulation or pinprick in naïve Swiss albino or transgenic Thy1-ChR2-YFP and hGFAP-GFP adult mice. We evaluated HMGB1 release in brain tissue sections prepared from these mice by immunofluorescent labeling and immunoelectron microscopy. EzColocalization and Costes thresholding algorithms were used to assess the colocalization of small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) carrying HMGB1 with astrocyte or microglia processes. sEVs were also isolated from the brain after CSD, and neuron-derived sEVs were captured by CD171 (L1CAM). sEVs were characterized with flow cytometry, scanning electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and Western blotting. We found that HMGB1 is released mainly within sEVs from the soma of stressed neurons, which are taken up by surrounding astrocyte processes. This creates conditions for selective communication between neurons and astrocytes bypassing microglia, as evidenced by activation of the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-ĸB p65 in astrocytes but not in microglia. Transmission immunoelectron microscopy data illustrated that HMGB1 was incorporated into sEVs through endosomal mechanisms. In conclusion, proinflammatory mediators released within sEVs can induce cell-specific inflammatory signaling in the brain without activating transmembrane receptors on other cells and causing overt inflammation.