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J Neuroimmunol. 2012 May 15;246(1-2):18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

IFN-γ deficiency exacerbates experimental autoimmune neuritis in mice despite a mitigated systemic Th1 immune response.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Previous studies have shown that interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) is a proinflammatory cytokine that contributes to the pathogenesis of Guillain-Barré syndrome and its animal model, experimental autoimmune neuritis (EAN). Treatments with anti-IFN-γ antibodies improve clinical outcome in GBS patients and EAN animals and administration of IFN-γ markedly worsens EAN. Paradoxically, the mice deficient in IFN-γ remain susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an analogous disease in the central nervous system. These observations raise a question whether IFN-γ might be protective in autoimmune demyelinating diseases. To clarify the role of IFN-γ in the pathogenesis of autoimmune demyelinating diseases, we used P0 protein peptide 180-199 to induce EAN in IFN-γ knockout (KO) mice. After the acute phase of EAN, the clinical signs of IFN-γ KO mice were significantly more severe than those of wild type (WT) controls. After antigenic stimulation, the proliferation of splenic mononuclear cells was significantly higher in IFN-γ KO than in WT mice with EAN. At the peak of EAN, the proportion of interleukin (IL)-17A expressing cells in cauda equina (CE) infiltrating cells, and the levels of IL-17A in sera were elevated in IFN-γ KO mice when compared with their WT counterparts. The proportions of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II, macrosialin, and IL-12/IL-23p40 expressing cells, relative to total CE infiltrating cells were correspondingly higher in IFN-γ KO than in WT mice with EAN. However, IFN-γ deficiency reduced the production of NO by cultured macrophages in response to proinflammatory stimuli and induced a systemic Th2-oriented immune response. In conclusion, IFN-γ deficiency exacerbates EAN via upregulating Th17 cells despite a mitigated systemic Th1 immune response.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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