Neuroinflammation characterized by activation of glial cells is observed in various neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although the reduction of ether-type glycerophospholipids, plasmalogens (Pls), in the brain is reported in AD patients, the mechanism of the reduction and its impact on neuroinflammation remained elusive. In the present study, we found for the first time that various inflammatory stimuli reduced Pls levels in murine glial cells via NF-κB activation, which then downregulated a Pls-synthesizing enzyme, glycerone phosphate O-acyltransferase (Gnpat) through increased c-Myc recruitment onto the Gnpat promoter. We also found that systemic injection of lipopolysaccharide, aging, and chronic restraint stress reduced brain Pls contents that were associated with glial NF-κB activation, an increase in c-Myc expression, and downregulation of Gnpat in the mouse cortex and hippocampus. More interestingly, the reduction of Pls contents in the murine cortex itself could increase the activated phenotype of microglial cells and the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, suggesting further acceleration of neuroinflammation by reduction of brain Pls. A similar mechanism of Gnpat reduction was also found in human cell lines, triple-transgenic AD mouse brain, and postmortem human AD brain tissues. These findings suggest a novel mechanism of neuroinflammation that may explain prolonged progression of AD and help us to explore preventive and therapeutic strategies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.
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