Spatial enrichment of the type 1 interferon signature in the brain of a neuropsychiatric lupus murine model

Ernest Aw, Stacie L. Lin, Yingying Zhang, Uli Herrmann, Esra Yalcin, Kent Langston, Carlos Castrillion, Minghe Ma, Jeffrey R. Moffitt, Michael C. Carroll
bioRxiv (2023)


Among systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, neuropsychiatric symptoms are highly prevalent, being observed in up to 80% of adult and 95% of pediatric patients. Type 1 interferons, particularly interferon alpha (IFNα), have been implicated in the pathogenesis of SLE and its associated neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPSLE). However, it remains unclear how type 1 interferon signaling in the central nervous system (CNS) might result in neuropsychiatric sequelae. In this study, we validate an NPSLE mouse model and find an elevated peripheral type 1 interferon signature alongside clinically relevant NPSLE symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue. Unbiased single-nucleus sequencing of the hindbrain and hippocampus revealed that interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) were among the most highly upregulated genes in both regions and that gene pathways involved in cellular interaction and neuronal development were generally repressed among astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and neurons. Using image-based spatial transcriptomics, we found that the type 1 interferon signature is enriched as spatially distinct patches within the brain parenchyma of these mice. Our results suggest that type 1 interferon in the CNS may play an important mechanistic role in mediating NPSLE behavioral phenotypes by repressing general cellular communication pathways, and that type 1 interferon signaling modulators are a potential therapeutic option for NPSLE.

  • Mouse model exhibits neuropsychiatric behaviors and elevated type 1 interferon.

  • The type 1 interferon gene signature is predominantly upregulated in the brain.

  • Interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) are present in a spatial pattern in the brain.

  • Cellular and synaptic interactions are generally repressed in cells with high ISGs.