Constitutively active microglial populations limit anorexia induced by the food contaminant deoxynivalenol


  • Gaige Stéphanie
  • Barbouche Rym
  • Barbot Manon
  • Boularand Sarah
  • Dallaporta Michel
  • Abysique Anne
  • Troadec Jean-Denis


  • Mycotoxin
  • Hypothalamus
  • Brainstem
  • Circumventricular organs
  • IBA1
  • TMEM119
  • CD68
  • CD11b
  • PLX3397
  • Minocycline

document type



Microglia are involved in neuroinflammatory processes during diverse pathophysiological conditions. To date, the possible contribution of these cells to deoxynivalenol (DON)-induced brain inflammation and anorexia has not yet been evaluated. DON, one of the most abundant trichothecenes found in cereals, has been implicated in mycotoxicosis in both humans and farm animals. DON-induced toxicity is characterized by reduced food intake, weight gain, and immunological effects. We previously showed that exposure to DON induces an inflammatory response within the hypothalamus and dorsal vagal complex (DVC) which contributes to DON-induced anorexia. Here, in response to anorectic DON doses, we reported microglial activation within two circumventricular organs (CVOs), the area postrema (AP) and median eminence (ME) located in the DVC and the hypothalamus, respectively. Interestingly, this microglial activation was observed while DON-induced anorexia was ongoing (i.e., 3 and 6 h after DON administration). Next, we took advantage of pharmacological microglia deletion using PLX3397, a colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R)-inhibitor. Surprisingly, microglia-depleted mice exhibited an increased sensitivity to DON since non-anorectic DON doses reduced food intake in PLX3397-treated mice. Moreover, low DON doses induced c-Fos expression within feeding behavior-associated structures in PLX3397-treated mice but not in control mice. In parallel, we have highlighted heterogeneity in the phenotype of microglial cells present in and around the AP and ME of control animals. In these areas, microglial subpopulations expressed IBA1, TMEM119, CD11b and CD68 to varying degrees. In addition, a CD68 positive subpopulation showed, under resting conditions, a noticeable phagocytotic/endocytotic activity. We observed that DON strongly reduced CD68 in the hypothalamus and DVC. Finally, inactivation of constitutively active microglia by intraperitoneal administration of minocycline resulted in anorexia with a DON dose ineffective in control mice. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that various populations of microglial cells residing in and around the CVOs are maintained in a functionally active state even under physiological conditions. We propose that these microglial cell populations are attempting to protect the brain parenchyma from hazardous molecules coming from the blood. This study could contribute to a better understanding of how microglia respond to environmental contaminants.

more information