The mechanisms by which the neurophysiological and inflammatory responses to brain injury contribute to memory impairments are not fully understood. Recently, we reported that the innate immune receptor, toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) enhances AMPA receptor (AMPAR) currents and excitability in the dentate gyrus after fluid percussion brain injury (FPI) while limiting excitability in controls. Here, we examine the cellular mediators underlying TLR4 regulation of dentate excitability and its impact on memory performance. In ex vivo slices, astrocytic and microglial metabolic inhibitors selectively abolished TLR4 antagonist modulation of excitability in controls, but not in rats after FPI, demonstrating that glial signaling contributes to TLR4 regulation of excitability in controls. In glia-depleted neuronal cultures from naïve mice, TLR4 ligands bidirectionally modulated AMPAR charge transfer consistent with neuronal TLR4 regulation of excitability, as observed after brain injury. In vivo TLR4 antagonism reduced early post-injury increases in mediators of MyD88-dependent and independent TLR4 signaling without altering expression in controls. Blocking TNFα, a downstream effector of TLR4, mimicked effects of TLR4 antagonist and occluded TLR4 agonist modulation of excitability in slices from both control and FPI rats. Functionally, transiently blocking TLR4 in vivo improved impairments in working memory observed one week and one month after FPI, while the same treatment impaired memory function in uninjured controls. Together these data identify that distinct cellular signaling mechanisms converge on TNFα to mediate TLR4 modulation of network excitability in the uninjured and injured brain and demonstrate a role for TLR4 in regulation of working memory function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Hippocampus granule cell
- Immune receptor