Mainly produced by T lymphocytes, activates its corresponding receptor and plays important roles under both homeostatic and inflammatory conditions.
The existence of this interferon, which early in its history was known as immune interferon, was described by E. F. Wheelock as a product of human leukocytes stimulated with phytohemagglutinin, and by others as a product of antigen-stimulated lymphocytes or tuberculin-sensitized mouse peritoneal lymphocytes challenged with PPD; the resulting supernatants were shown to inhibit growth of vesicular stomatitis virus. Those reports also contained the basic observation underlying the now widely employed interferon gamma release assay used to test for tuberculosis. In humans, the IFNγ protein is encoded by the IFNG gene.
The impact of IFN-γ on the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-mediated currents in the hippocampus, a major brain region involved in the cognitive function, has not been investigated. Here we detected abundant expression of both IFN-γ receptor subunit gene transcripts (Ifngr1 and Ifngr2) in the rat hippocampus by quantitative PCR. In addition, we pre-incubated rat hippocampal slices with IFN-γ (100 ng/ml) and recorded GABA-activated spontaneous and miniature postsynaptic inhibitory currents (sIPSCs and mIPSCs) and tonic currents in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons by the whole-cell patch-clamp method. The pre-incubation with IFN-γ increased the frequency but not the mean amplitude, rise time or decay time of both sIPSCs and mIPSCs in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, suggesting a presynaptic effect of IFN-γ. Moreover, the GABA-activated tonic currents were enhanced by IFN-γ. In conclusion, the potentiation of GABAergic currents in hippocampal neurons by IFN-γ may contribute to the disturbed neuronal excitability and cognitive dysfunction during neuroinflammation 1).