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PKC modulator bryostatin-1 therapeutically targets CNS innate immunity to attenuate neuroinflammation and promote remyelination

Gharibani, P;Abramson, E;Shanmukha, S;Smith, MD;Godfrey, WH;Lee, JJ;Hu, J;Baydyuk, M;Dorion, MF;Deng, X;Guo, Y;Hwang, S;Huang, JK;Calabresi, PA;Kornberg, MD;Kim, PM;

In multiple sclerosis (MS), microglia and macrophages within the central nervous system (CNS) play an important role in determining the balance between myelin repair and demyelination/neurodegeneration. Phagocytic and regenerative functions of these CNS innate immune cells support remyelination, whereas chronic and maladaptive inflammatory activation promotes lesion expansion and disability, particularly in the progressive forms of MS. No currently approved drugs convincingly target microglia and macrophages within the CNS, contributing to the critical lack of therapies promoting remyelination and slowing progression in MS. Here, we found that the protein kinase C (PKC)-modulating drug bryostatin-1 (bryo-1), a CNS-penetrant compound with an established human safety profile, produces a shift in microglia and CNS macrophage transcriptional programs from pro-inflammatory to regenerative phenotypes, both in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of microglia with bryo-1 prevented the activation of neurotoxic astrocytes while stimulating scavenger pathways, phagocytosis, and secretion of factors that promote oligodendrocyte differentiation. In line with these findings, systemic treatment with bryo-1 augmented remyelination following a focal demyelinating injury in vivo. Our results demonstrate the potential of bryo-1 and functionally related PKC modulators as myelin regenerative and neuroprotective agents in MS and other neurologic diseases through therapeutic targeting of microglia and CNS-associated macrophages.PKC modulation in CNS innate immune cells favors the activation of a beneficial phenotype that promotes myelin regeneration and neuroprotection.