Low-dose ionizing radiation modulates microglia phenotypes in the models of Alzheimer’s disease

Sujin Kim, Hyunju Chung, Han Ngoc Mai, Yunkwon Nam, Soo Jung Shin, Yong Ho Park, Mi Joo Chung, Jong Kil Lee, Hak Young Rhee, Geon Ho Jahng, Youngkyong Kim, Yu Jin Lim, Moonkyoo Kong, Minho Moon, Weon Kuu Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia. AD involves major pathologies such as amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. During the progression of AD, microglia can be polarized from anti-inflammatory M2 to pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype. The activation of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) may result in microglia phenotype switching from M1 to M2, which finally attenuated Aβ deposition and memory loss in AD. Low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) is known to ameliorate Aβ pathology and cognitive deficits in AD; however, the therapeutic mechanisms of LDIR against AD-related pathology have been little studied. First, we reconfirm that LDIR (two Gy per fraction for five times)-treated six-month 5XFAD mice exhibited (1) the reduction of Aβ deposition, as reflected by thioflavins S staining, and (2) the improvement of cognitive deficits, as revealed by Morris water maze test, compared to sham-exposed 5XFAD mice. To elucidate the mechanisms of LDIR-induced inhibition of Aβ accumulation and memory loss in AD, we examined whether LDIR regulates the microglial phenotype through the examination of levels of M1 and M2 cytokines in 5XFAD mice. In addition, we investigated the direct effects of LDIR on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced production and secretion of M1/M2 cytokines in the BV-2 microglial cells. In the LPS-and LDIR-treated BV-2 cells, the M2 phenotypic marker CD206 was significantly increased, compared with LPS-and sham-treated BV-2 cells. Finally, the effect of LDIR on M2 polarization was confirmed by detection of increased expression of TREM2 in LPS-induced BV2 cells. These results suggest that LDIR directly induced phenotype switching from M1 to M2 in the brain with AD. Taken together, our results indicated that LDIR modulates LPS-and Aβ-induced neuroinflammation by promoting M2 polarization via TREM2 expression, and has beneficial effects in the AD-related pathology such as Aβ deposition and memory loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4532
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyloid-beta
  • Low-dose ionizing radiation
  • M1/M2
  • Microglia
  • TREM2


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