BackgroundMicroglia-driven cerebral spreading inflammation is a key contributor to secondary brain injury after SAH. Genetic depletion or deactivation of microglia has been shown to ameliorate neuronal cell death. Therefore, clinically feasible anti-inflammatory approaches counteracting microglia accumulation or activation are interesting targets for SAH treatment. Here, we tested two different methods of interference with microglia-driven cerebral inflammation in a murine SAH model: (i) inflammatory preconditioning and (ii) pharmacological deactivation.Methods7T-MRI-controlled SAH was induced by endovascular perforation in four groups of C57Bl/6 mice: (i) Sham-operation, (ii) SAH naïve, (iii) SAH followed by inflammatory preconditioning (LPS intraperitoneally), and (iv) SAH followed by pharmacological microglia deactivation (colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor-antagonist PLX3397 intraperitoneally). Microglia accumulation and neuronal cell death (immuno-fluorescence), as well as activation status (RT-PCR for inflammation-associated molecules from isolated microglia) were recorded at day 4 and 14. Toll-like receptor4 (TLR4) status was analyzed using FACS.ResultsFollowing SAH, significant cerebral spreading inflammation occurred. Microglia accumulation and pro-inflammatory gene expression were accompanied by neuronal cell death with a maximum on day 14 after SAH. Inflammatory preconditioning as well as PLX3397-treatment resulted in significantly reduced microglia accumulation and activation as well as neuronal cell death. TLR4 surface expression in preconditioned animals was diminished as a sign for receptor activation and internalization.ConclusionsMicroglia-driven cerebral spreading inflammation following SAH contributes to secondary brain injury. Two microglia-focused treatment strategies, (i) inflammatory preconditioning with LPS and (ii) pharmacological deactivation with PLX3397, led to significant reduction of neuronal cell death. Increased internalization of inflammation-driving TLR4 after preconditioning leaves less receptor molecules on the cell surface, providing a probable explanation for significantly reduced microglia activation. Our findings support microglia-focused treatment strategies to overcome secondary brain injury after SAH. Delayed inflammation onset provides a valuable clinical window of opportunity.