Neuron-specific PERK inactivation exacerbates neurodegeneration during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), are chronic inflammatory demyelinating and neurodegenerative diseases of the CNS. Although neurodegeneration is the major contributor to chronic disability in MS, mechanisms governing the viability of axons and neurons in MS and EAE remain elusive. Data indicate that activation of pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) influences, positively or negatively, neuron and axon viability in various neurodegenerative diseases through induction of ATF4. In this study, we demonstrate that the PERK pathway was activated in neurons during EAE. We found that neuron-specific PERK inactivation impaired EAE resolution and exacerbated EAE-induced axon degeneration, neuron loss, and demyelination. Surprisingly, neuron-specific ATF4 inactivation did not alter EAE disease course or EAE-induced axon degeneration, neuron loss, and demyelination. These results suggest that PERK activation in neurons protects axons and neurons against inflammation in MS and EAE through ATF4-independent mechanisms.