mTOR Signaling Pathway Regulates the Release of Proinflammatory Molecule CCL5 Implicated in the Pathogenesis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Baojiang Wang , Yueyuan Qin, Qunyan Wu, Xi Li, Dongying XIE, Zhongying ZHAO*, Shan Duan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder and neuroinflammation may contribute to the pathogenesis of ASD. However, the exact mechanisms of abnormal release of proinflammatory mediators in ASD remain poorly understood. This study reports elevated plasma levels of the proinflammatory chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 5 (CCL5) in children with ASD, suggesting an aberrant inflammatory response appearing in the development of ASD. Mining of the expression data of brain or blood tissue from individuals with ASD reveals that mTOR signaling is aberrantly activated in ASD patients. Our in vitro study shows that suppression of mTOR reduces the gene expression and release of CCL5 from human microglia, supporting that CCL5 expression is regulated by mTOR activity. Furthermore, bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced CCL5 expression can be counteracted by siRNA against NF-κB, suggests a determining role of NF-κB in upregulating CCL5 expression. However, a direct regulatory relationship between the NF-κB element and the mTOR signaling pathway was not observed in rapamycin-treated cells. Our results show that the phosphorylated CREB can be induced to suppress CCL5 expression by outcompeting NF-κB in binding to CREB-binding protein (CREBBP) once the mTOR signaling pathway is inhibited. We propose that the activation of mTOR signaling in ASD may induce the suppression of phosphorylation of CREB, which in turn results in the increased binding of CREBBP to NF-κB, a competitor of phosphorylated CREB to drive expression of CCL5. Our study sheds new light on the inflammatory mechanisms of ASD and paves the way for the development of therapeutic strategy for ASD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number818518
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

User-Defined Keywords

  • CCL5
  • NF-κB
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • mTOR
  • neurodevelopmental disorder
  • proinflammatory cytokines


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