Brainstem cytokine changes in healthy ageing and Motor Neurone Disease

Anuradha Tennakoon, Viythia Katharesan, Ian P. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuroinflammation is linked to healthy ageing, but its role in the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases is unclear. In this pilot study we used a multiplex assay approach to compare 27 cytokines in 6 young adult and 6 ageing control brainstems with those in 6 MND brainstems. We report that healthy ageing is associated with significantly increased brainstem levels of IL-1β, IP-10 and MIP-1β which co-localise immunocytochemically to astrocytes. MND brainstem is also characterised by a general increase in both pro- and anti-cytokine levels, but fails to show the expected age-related increase in MIP-1β and IP-10. This pilot study is the first to show that MND is associated with a failure of specific features of the normal age-related neuroinflammatory process. We suggest that our pilot data indicates that neuroinflammation during healthy ageing may not always be detrimental to motoneuronal survival and that age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as MND, may instead result from defective neuroinflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-199
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • Astrocytes
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • MIP-1β
  • Motor Neurone Disease


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