Cyclophosphamide-induced cystitis results in NLRP3-mediated inflammation in the hippocampus and symptoms of depression in rats.


Journal Article

Recent breakthroughs demonstrate that peripheral diseases can trigger inflammation in the brain, causing psychosocial maladies, including depression. While few direct studies have been made, anecdotal reports associate urological disorders with mental dysfunction. Thus, we investigated if insults targeted at the bladder might elicit behavioral alterations. Moreover, the mechanism of neuroinflammation elicited by other peripheral diseases involves the NOD-like receptor family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, which is present in microglia in the brain and cleaves and activates proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β. Thus, we further explored the importance of NLRP3 in behavioral and neuroinflammatory changes. Here, we used the well-studied cyclophosphamide (CP)-treated rat model. Importantly, CP and its metabolites do not cross the blood-brain barrier or trigger inflammation in the gut, so that any neuroinflammation is likely secondary to bladder injury. We found that CP triggered an increase in inflammasome activity (caspase-1 activity) in the hippocampus but not in the pons. Evans blue extravasation demonstrated breakdown of the blood-brain barrier in the hippocampal region and activated microglia were present in the fascia dentata. Both changes were dependent on NLRP3 activation and prevented with 2-mercaptoethane sulfonate sodium (Mesna), which masks the effects of the CP metabolite acrolein in the urine. Finally, CP-treated rats displayed depressive symptoms that were prevented by NLRP3 inhibition or treatment with Mesna or an antidepressant. Thus, we conclude that CP-induced cystitis causes NLRP3-dependent hippocampal inflammation leading to depression symptoms in rats. This study proposes the first-ever causative explanation of the previously anecdotal link between benign bladder disorders and mood disorders.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hirshman, NA; Hughes, FM; Jin, H; Harrison, WT; White, SW; Doan, I; Harper, SN; Leidig, PD; Purves, JT

Published Date

  • February 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 318 / 2

Start / End Page

  • F354 - F362

PubMed ID

  • 31869244

Pubmed Central ID

  • 31869244

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1522-1466

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1152/ajprenal.00408.2019


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States