Brain injury elicits a systemic acute-phase response (APR), which is responsible for co-ordinating the peripheral immunological response to injury. To date, the mechanisms responsible for signalling the presence of injury or disease to selectively activate responses in distant organs were unclear. Circulating endogenous extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increased after brain injury and have the potential to carry targeted injury signals around the body. Here, we examined the potential of EVs, isolated from rats after focal inflammatory brain lesions using IL-1β, to activate a systemic APR in recipient naïve rats, as well as the behavioural consequences of EV transfer. Focal brain lesions increased EV release, and, following isolation and transfer, the EVs were sequestered by the liver where they initiated an APR. Transfer of blood-borne EVs from brain-injured animals was also enough to suppress exploratory behaviours in recipient naïve animals. EVs derived from brain endothelial cell cultures treated with IL-1β also activated an APR and altered behaviour in recipient animals. These experiments reveal that inflammation-induced circulating EVs derived from endothelial cells are able to initiate the APR to brain injury and are sufficient to generate the associated sickness behaviours, and are the first demonstration that EVs are capable of modifying behavioural responses.
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