Fast direct neuronal signaling via the IL-4 receptor as therapeutic target in neuroinflammation

Christina F. Vogelaar, Shibajee Mandal, Steffen Lerch, Katharina Birkner, Jerome Birkenstock, Ulrike Bühler, Andrea Schnatz, Cedric S. Raine, Stefan Bittner, Johannes Vogt, Jonathan Kipnis, Robert Nitsch, Frauke Zipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Ongoing axonal degeneration is thought to underlie disability in chronic neuroinflammation, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), especially during its progressive phase. Upon inflammatory attack, axons undergo pathological swelling, which can be reversible. Because we had evidence for beneficial effects of T helper 2 lymphocytes in experimental neurotrauma and discovered interleukin-4 receptor (IL-4R) expressed on axons in MS lesions, we aimed at unraveling the effects of IL-4 on neuroinflammatory axon injury. We demonstrate that intrathecal IL-4 treatment during the chronic phase of several experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis models reversed disease progression without affecting inflammation. Amelioration of disability was abrogated upon neuronal deletion of IL-4R. We discovered direct neuronal signaling via the IRS1-PI3K-PKC pathway underlying cytoskeletal remodeling and axonal repair. Nasal IL-4 application, suitable for clinical translation, was equally effective in improving clinical outcome. Targeting neuronal IL-4 signaling may offer new therapeutic strategies to halt disability progression in MS and possibly also neurodegenerative conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaao2304
JournalScience translational medicine
Issue number430
StatePublished - Feb 28 2018


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