Astrocytes are highly heterogenic in their phenotype and function, which contribute to CNS disease, repair and aging; however, the molecular mechanism of their functional states remains largely unknown. Here we show that activation of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), a protein deacetylase, plays an important role in the detrimental actions of reactive astrocytes, whereas its inactivation endorsed these cells with anti-inflammatory functions that inhibited the production of proinflammatory mediators by myeloid cells/microglia and promoted the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Mice with astrocyte-specific Sirt1 knockout had suppressed progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of CNS inflammatory demyelinating diseases. Ongoing EAE was also suppressed when Sirt1 expression in astrocytes was diminished by CRISPR/Cas vector, resulting in reduced demyelination, decreased numbers of T cells, and increased rate of IL-10-producing macrophages/microglia in the CNS, whereas peripheral immune response remained unaffected. Mechanistically, Sirt1-/- astrocytes expressed a range of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (Nfe2l2) target genes, and Nfe2l2 deficiency shifted the beneficial action of Sirt1-/- astrocytes to a detrimental one. These findings identify a novel approach for switching functional state of reactive astrocytes and facilitate the development of astrocyte-targeting therapies for inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Weifeng Zhang, Dan Xiao, Xing Li, Yuan Zhang, Javad Rasouli, Giacomo Casella, Alexandra Boehm, Daniel Hwang, Larissa L.W. Ishikawa, Rodolfo Thome, Bogoljub Ciric, Mark T. Curtis, Abdolmohamad Rostami, Guang-Xian Zhang