Individuals affected with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) develop cortical tubers characterized by disorganized cytoarchitecture and morphologically abnormal cell types, such as dysplastic neurons (DNs) and giant cells (GCs). As part of ongoing cDNA array analysis to study the molecular pathogenesis of tuber formation, we detected increased expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) mRNA, a cell adhesion molecule (CAM) that functions in cytokine signaling, in tubers. Western and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that ICAM-1 protein was selectively expressed in tubers, but was only minimally expressed in control cortex, adjacent nontuberal cortex, or in non-TSC focal cortical dysplasia. Increased expression of ICAM-1 was found in mice in which the Tsc1 gene was conditionally inactivated in astrocytes. Expression of molecules involved in ICAM-1 activation and cytokine signaling were increased in tubers, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK), and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB). Numerous CD68-immunoreactive macrophages were observed clustered around GCs further supporting an inflammatory response in tubers. Expression of caspase 8 and Fas support cytokine activation and detection of TUNEL reactivity suggests ongoing cell death in tubers. Specific alterations in ICAM-1, TNF-α, NF-κB1, and MAPK expression coupled with the detection of numerous CD68-immunoreactive macrophages suggests activation of proinflammatory cytokine signaling pathways in tubers that may culminate in cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2003


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