Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Several stimuli result in glial activation and induce nitric oxide (NO) production in microglial and astroglial cells. The bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been widely used to achieve glial activation in vitro, and several studies show that both microglial and, to a lesser extent, astroglial cell cultures produce NO after LPS treatment. However, NO production in endotoxin-treated astrocyte cultures is controversial. We characterized NO production in microglial, astroglial and mixed glial cell cultures treated with lipopolysaccharide, measured as nitrite accumulation in the culture media. We also identified the NO-producing cells by immunocytochemistry, using specific markers for the inducible NO synthase (iNOS) isoform, microglial and astroglial cells. Only microglial cells showed iNOS immunoreactivity. Thus, contaminating microglial cells were responsible for NO production in the secondary astrocyte cultures. We then analysed the effect of astrocytes on NO production by microglial cells using microglial–astroglial cocultures, and we observed that this production was clearly enhanced in the presence of astroglial cells. Soluble factors released by astrocytes did not appear to be directly responsible for such an effect, whereas nonsoluble factors present in the cell membrane of LPS-treated astrocytes could account, at least in part, for this enhancement.
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