Interleukin-1β causes excitotoxic neurodegeneration and multiple sclerosis disease progression by activating the apoptotic protein p53

Silvia Rossi, Caterina Motta, Valeria Studer, Giulia Macchiarulo, Elisabetta Volpe, Francesca Barbieri, Gabriella Ruocco, Fabio Buttari, Annamaria Finardi, Raffaele Mancino, Sagit Weiss, Luca Battistini, Gianvito Martino, Roberto Furlan, Jelena Drulovic, Diego Centonze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Understanding how inflammation causes neuronal damage is of paramount importance in multiple sclerosis (MS) and in other neurodegenerative diseases. Here we addressed the role of the apoptotic cascade in the synaptic abnormalities and neuronal loss caused by the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) in brain tissues, and disease progression caused by inflammation in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients.

RESULTS: The effect of IL-1β, but not of TNF-α, on glutamate-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents was blocked by pifithrin-α (PFT), inhibitor of p53. The protein kinase C (PKC)/transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) pathway was involved in IL-1β-p53 interaction at glutamatergic synapses, as pharmacological modulation of this inflammation-relevant molecular pathway affected PFT effects on the synaptic action of IL-1β. IL-1β-induced neuronal swelling was also blocked by PFT, and IL-1β increased the expression of p21, a canonical downstream target of activated p53.Consistent with these in vitro results, the Pro/Pro genotype of p53, associated with low efficiency of transcription of p53-regulated genes, abrogated the association between IL-1β cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels and disability progression in RRMS patients. The interaction between p53 and CSF IL-1β was also evaluated at the optical coherence tomography (OCT), showing that IL-1β-driven neurodegenerative damage, causing alterations of macular volume and of retinal nerve fibre layer thickness, was modulated by the p53 genotype.

CONCLUSIONS: Inflammatory synaptopathy and neurodegeneration caused by IL-1β in RRMS patients involve the apoptotic cascade. Targeting IL-1β-p53 interaction might result in significant neuroprotection in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56
Number of pages1
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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