Komiya H, et al. Mol Brain 2020.
It remains controversial whether circulating monocytes expressing CCR2 infiltrate the central nervous system (CNS) and contribute to pathogenicity of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A previous report used conventional immunohistochemistry to show that CCR2 is exclusively expressed by astrocytes, but not infiltrating monocytes/microglia or neurons, in the spinal cords of ALS model mice. In this study, we assessed the cellular distribution of CCR2 in the CNS of ALS mice using CCR2-reporter
mice (Ccr2rfp/+-Cx3cr1gfp/+-SOD1G93A Tg mice), a more sophisticated method for directly detecting the distribution of CCR2 protein. We found that infiltration of CCR2+ monocytes in the lumbar spinal cord increased over the course of disease progression. Moreover, from the middle stage of disease, CCR2 was partially distributed in microglia and neurons, but not astrocytes, in striking contrast to the previous findings. These novel observations suggested that CCR2+ monocyte infiltration leads to CNS environmental deterioration due to toxic conversion of microglia and neurons, creating a vicious cycle of neuroinflammation and leading to acceleration of ALS pathology. Our findings also show that this reporter mouse is a useful and powerful tool for obtaining new insights into the pathomechanisms of ALS.