Astrocytic RIPK3 exerts protective anti-inflammatory activity during viral encephalitis via induction of serpin protease inhibitors.

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Astrocytic RIPK3 exerts protective anti-inflammatory activity during viral encephalitis via induction of serpin protease inhibitors.

Authors

Lindman, M.; Estevez, I.; Marmut, E.; DaPrano, E. M.; Chou, T.-W.; Newman, K.; Atkins, C.; O'Brown, N. M.; Daniels, B. P.

Abstract

Flaviviruses pose a significant threat to public health due to their ability to infect the central nervous system (CNS) and cause severe neurologic disease. Astrocytes play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of flavivirus encephalitis through their maintenance of blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity and their modulation of immune cell recruitment and activation within the CNS. We have previously shown that receptor interacting protein kinase-3 (RIPK3) is a central coordinator of neuroinflammation during CNS viral infection, a function that occurs independently of its canonical function in inducing necroptotic cell death. To date, however, roles for necroptosis-independent RIPK3 signaling in astrocytes are poorly understood. Here, we use mouse genetic tools to induce astrocyte-specific deletion, overexpression, and chemogenetic activation of RIPK3 to demonstrate an unexpected anti-inflammatory function for astrocytic RIPK3. RIPK3 activation in astrocytes was required for host survival in multiple models of flavivirus encephalitis, where it restricted neuropathogenesis by limiting immune cell recruitment to the CNS. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that, despite inducing a traditional pro-inflammatory transcriptional program, astrocytic RIPK3 paradoxically promoted neuroprotection through the upregulation of serpins, endogenous protease inhibitors with broad immunomodulatory activity. Notably, intracerebroventricular administration of SerpinA3N in infected mice preserved BBB integrity, reduced leukocyte infiltration, and improved survival outcomes in mice lacking astrocytic RIPK3. These findings highlight a previously unappreciated role for astrocytic RIPK3 in suppressing pathologic neuroinflammation and suggests new therapeutic targets for the treatment of flavivirus encephalitis.

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