Citation

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Autoimmune demyelination alters hypothalamic transcriptome and endocrine function

Carver, JJ;Lau, KM;Puckett, AE;Didonna, A;

The hypothalamus is a brain structure that is deputed to maintain organism homeostasis by regulating autonomic function and hormonal production as part of the neuroendocrine system. Dysfunction in hypothalamic activity results in behavioral alterations, depression, metabolic syndromes, fatigue, and infertility. Remarkably, many of these symptoms are associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by focal demyelination, immune cell infiltration into the brain parenchyma, and neurodegeneration. Furthermore, altered hormonal levels have been documented in MS patients, suggesting the putative involvement of hypothalamic deficits in MS clinical manifestations. Yet, a systematic analysis of hypothalamic function in response to neuroinflammatory stress is still lacking. To fill this gap, here we performed a longitudinal profiling of the hypothalamic transcriptome upon experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)-a murine disease model recapitulating key MS phenotypes at both histopathological and molecular levels. We show that changes in gene expression connected with an anti-inflammatory response start already at pre-onset and persist along EAE progression. Altered levels of hypothalamic neuropeptides were also detected, which possibly underlie homeostatic responses to stress and aberrant feeding behaviors. Last, a thorough investigation of the principal endocrine glands highlighted defects in the main steroidogenic pathways upon disease. Collectively, our findings corroborate the central role of hypothalamic dysfunction in CNS autoimmunity.