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Open Access Research

Calreticulin and other components of endoplasmic reticulum stress in rat and human inflammatory demyelination

Mary Ní Fhlathartaigh1, Jill McMahon1, Richard Reynolds2, David Connolly1, Eibhlín Higgins3, Timothy Counihan3 and Una FitzGerald1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, Galway Neuroscience Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

2 Centre for Neuroscience, Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK

3 University Hospital, Galway, Ireland

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Acta Neuropathologica Communications 2013, 1:37  doi:10.1186/2051-5960-1-37

Published: 15 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Calreticulin (CRT) is a chaperone protein, which aids correct folding of glycosylated proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Under conditions of ER stress, CRT is upregulated and may be displayed on the surface of cells or be secreted. This ‘ecto-CRT’ may activate the innate immune response or it may aid clearance of apoptotic cells. Our and other studies have demonstrated upregulation of ER stress markers CHOP, BiP, ATF4, XBP1 and phosphorylated e-IF2 alpha (p-eIF2 alpha) in biopsy and post-mortem human multiple sclerosis (MS) samples. We extend this work by analysing changes in expression of CRT, BiP, CHOP, XBP1 and p-eIF2 alpha in a rat model of inflammatory demyelination. Demyelination was induced in the spinal cord by intradermal injection of recombinant mouse MOG mixed with incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA) at the base of the tail. Tissue samples were analysed by semi-quantitative scoring of immunohistochemically stained frozen tissue sections. Data generated following sampling of tissue from animals with spinal cord lesions, was compared to that obtained using tissue derived from IFA- or saline-injected controls. CRT present in rat serum and in a cohort of human serum derived from 14 multiple sclerosis patients and 11 healthy controls was measured by ELISA.

Results

Stained tissue scores revealed significantly (p<0.05) increased amounts of CRT, CHOP and p-eIF2 alpha in the lesion, lesion edge and normal-appearing white matter when compared to controls. CHOP and p-eIF2 alpha were also significantly raised in regions of grey matter and the central canal (p<0.05). Immunofluorescent dual-label staining confirmed expression of these markers in astrocytes, microglia or neurons. Dual staining of rat and human spinal cord lesions with Oil Red O and CRT antibody showed co-localisation of CRT with the rim of myelin fragments. ELISA testing of sera from control and EAE rats demonstrated significant down-regulation (p<0.05) of CRT in the serum of EAE animals, compared to saline and IFA controls. This contrasted with significantly increased amounts of CRT detected in the sera of MS patients (p<0.05), compared to controls.

Conclusion

This data highlights the potential importance of CRT and other ER stress proteins in inflammatory demyelination.

Keywords:
Calreticulin; ER stress; EAE; Spinal cord demyelination; Multiple sclerosis