Mesencephalic Electrical Stimulation Reduces Neuroinflammation after Photothrombotic Stroke in Rats by Targeting the Cholinergic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway.

Schuhmann MK, Papp L, Stoll G, Blum R, Volkmann J, Fluri F.
Int J Mol Sci.


Inflammation is crucial in the pathophysiology of stroke and thus a promising therapeutic target. High-frequency stimulation (HFS) of the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR) reduces perilesional inflammation after photothrombotic stroke (PTS). However, the underlying mechanism is not completely understood. Since distinct neural and immune cells respond to electrical stimulation by releasing acetylcholine, we hypothesize that HFS might trigger the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway via activation of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAchR). To test this hypothesis, rats underwent PTS and implantation of a microelectrode into the MLR. Three hours after intervention, either HFS or sham-stimulation of the MLR was applied for 24 h. IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-1α were quantified by cytometric bead array. Choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)+ CD4+-cells and α7nAchR+-cells were quantified visually using immunohistochemistry. Phosphorylation of NFĸB, ERK1/2, Akt, and Stat3 was determined by Western blot analyses. IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-1α were decreased in the perilesional area of stimulated rats compared to controls. The number of ChAT+ CD4+-cells increased after MLR-HFS, whereas the amount of α7nAchR+-cells was similar in both groups. Phospho-ERK1/2 was reduced significantly in stimulated rats. The present study suggests that MLR-HFS may trigger anti-inflammatory processes within the perilesional area by modulating the cholinergic system, probably via activation of the α7nAchR.
Published: Jan 2021