Poor Cerebral Inflammatory Response in eIF2B Knock-In Mice: Implications for the Aetiology of Vanishing White Matter Disease

Yuval Cabilly, Mali Barbi, Michal Geva, Liraz Marom, David Chetrit, Marcelo Ehrlich, Orna Elroy-Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mutations in any of the five subunits of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B (eIF2B) can lead to an inherited chronic-progressive fatal brain disease of unknown aetiology termed leucoencephalopathy with vanishing white matter (VWM). VWM is one of the most prevalent childhood white matter disorders, which markedly deteriorates after inflammation or exposure to other stressors. eIF2B is a major housekeeping complex that governs the rate of global protein synthesis under normal and stress conditions. A previous study demonstrated that Eif2b5R132H/R132H mice suffer delayed white matter development and fail to recover from cuprizone-induced demyelination, although eIF2B enzymatic activity in the mutant brain is reduced by merely 20%. Principal Findings: Poor astrogliosis was observed in Eif2b5R132H/R132H mice brain in response to systemic stress induced by peripheral injections of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Even with normal rates of protein synthesis under normal conditions, primary astrocytes and microglia isolated from mutant brains fail to adequately synthesise and secrete cytokines in response to LPS treatment despite proper induction of cytokine mRNAs. Conclusions: The mild reduction in eIF2B activity prevents the appropriate increase in translation rates upon exposure to the inflammatory stressor LPS. The data underscore the importance of fully-functional translation machinery for efficient cerebral inflammatory response upon insults. It highlights the magnitude of proficient translation rates in restoration of brain homeostasis via microglia-astrocyte crosstalk. This study is the first to suggest the involvement of microglia in the pathology of VWM disease. Importantly, it rationalises the deterioration of clinical symptoms upon exposure of VWM patients to physiological stressors and provides possible explanation for their high phenotypic variability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46715
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 4 Oct 2012


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