CCL20-CCR6 axis modulated traumatic brain injury-induced visual pathologies.


James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, FL, USA. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the USA and the world; it constitutes 30% of injury-related deaths (Taylor et al., MMWR Surveill Summ 66:1-16, 2017). Contact sports athletes often experience repetitive TBI (rTBI), which exerts a cumulative effect later in life. Visual impairment is a common after-effect of TBI. Previously, we have shown that C-C chemokine 20 (CCL20) plays a critical role in neurodegeneration and inflammation following TBI (Das et al., J Neuroinflammation 8:148, 2011). C-C chemokine receptor 6 (CCR6) is the only receptor that CCL20 interacts with. The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of CCL20-CCR6 axis in mediating rTBI-induced visual dysfunction (TVD).
METHODS : Wild type (WT) or CCR6 knock out (CCR6-/-) mice were subjected to closed head rTBI. Pioglitazone (PG) is a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) agonist which downregulates CCL20 production. Subsets of WT mice were treated with PG following final rTBI. A subset of mice was also treated with anti-CCL20 antibody to neutralize the CCL20 produced after rTBI. Histopathological assessments were performed to show cerebral pathologies, retinal pathologies, and inflammatory changes induced by rTBI.
RESULTS : rTBI induced cerebral neurodegeneration, retinal degeneration, microgliosis, astrogliosis, and CCL20 expression. CCR6-/- mice showed reduced retinal degeneration, microgliosis, and inflammation. Treatment with CCL20 neutralization antibody or PG showed reduced CCL20 expression along with reduced retinal degeneration and inflammation. rTBI-induced GFAP-positive glial activation in the optic nerve was not affected by knocking out CCR6.
CONCLUSIONS : The present data indicate that rTBI-induced retinal pathology is mediated at least in part by CCL20 in a CCR6-dependent manner.