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J Immunol. 2007 Jan 1;178(1):39-48.

GM-CSF production by autoreactive T cells is required for the activation of microglial cells and the onset of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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  • 1Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a CNS autoimmune disease believed to be triggered by T cells secreting Th1-specific proinflammatory cytokines, such as GM-CSF. In the animal model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), Th1 but not Th2 cells have been shown to induce disease; however, to date, no single encephalitogenic T cell-derived cytokine has been shown to be required for EAE onset. Because GM-CSF-deficient mice have been shown to be resistant to EAE following immunization with myelin self-Ag, we investigated the cellular source of the required GM-CSF and found that GM-CSF production by encephalitogenic T cells, but not CNS resident or other peripheral cells, was required for EAE induction. Furthermore, we showed that microglial cell activation, but not peripheral macrophage activation, was a GM-CSF-dependent process. Activation of microglial cells by the injection of LPS abrogated the GM-CSF requirement for EAE induction, suggesting that microglial cell activation is required for EAE onset. These data also demonstrate that GM-CSF is a critical Th1 cell-derived cytokine required for the initiation of CNS inflammation associated with EAE, and likely MS.

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