Microglia are first-line defense antigen-presenting phagocytes in the central nervous system. Activated microglial cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines and can trigger an oxidative burst. The amino acid glycine exerts anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and cytoprotective effects and influences cell volume regulation. This study aimed to investigate the role of glycine in the modulation of inflammatory processes in mouse BV-2 microglial cells. Inflammatory stress was induced by lipopolysaccharide/interferon-γ (LPS/IFN-γ) treatment for 24 h in the absence or presence of 1 or 5 mM glycine. Cells were analyzed by flow cytometry for cell volume, side scatter, apoptosis/necrosis and expression of activation-specific surface markers. Apoptosis progression was monitored by life cell imaging. Reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratios and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α were measured using luminescence-based assays and ELISA, respectively. We found that LPS/IFN-γ-induced apoptosis was decreased and the fraction of living cells was increased by glycine. Expression of the surface markers CD11b, CD54 and CD80 was dose-dependently increased, while IL-6 and TNF-α release was not altered compared to LPS/IFN-γ-treated cells. We showed that in BV-2 microglial cells glycine improves viability and counteracts deleterious responses to LPS/IFN-γ, which might be relevant in neurodegenerative processes associated with inflammation, like Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease.
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