Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Acta Neurol Belg. 2012 Jun;112(2):133-40. doi: 10.1007/s13760-012-0061-x. Epub 2012 Mar 24.

Self-tolerance in multiple sclerosis.

Author information

  • 1Fondation-Charcot-Stichting, Avenue Huart Hamoir 48, 1030 Brussels, Belgium.


During the last decade, several defects in self-tolerance have been identified in multiple sclerosis. Dysfunction in central tolerance leads to the thymic output of antigen-specific T cells with T cell receptor alterations favouring autoimmune reactions. In addition, premature thymic involution results in a reduced export of naïve regulatory T cells, the fully suppressive clone. Alterations in peripheral tolerance concern costimulatory molecules as well as transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms. Recent data underline the key role of regulatory T cells that suppress Th1 and Th17 effector cell responses and whose immunosuppressive activity is impaired in patients with multiple sclerosis. Those recent observations suggest that a defect in self-tolerance homeostasis might be the primary mover of multiple sclerosis leading to subsequent immune attacks, inflammation and neurodegeneration. The concept of multiple sclerosis as a consequence of the failure of central and peripheral tolerance mechanisms to maintain a self-tolerance state, particularly of regulatory T cells, may have therapeutic implications. Restoring normal thymic output and suppressive functions of regulatory T cells appears an appealing approach. Regulatory T cells suppress the general local immune response via bystander effects rather than through individual antigen-specific responses. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of currently approved immunomodulators (interferons β and glatiramer acetate) are associated with a restored regulatory T cell homeostasis. However, the feedback regulation between Th1 and Th17 effector cells and regulatory T cells is not so simple and tolerogenic mechanisms also involve other regulatory cells such as B cells, dendritic cells and CD56(bright) natural killer cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk