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ASN Neuro. 2013 Nov 26;5(5):e00127. doi: 10.1042/AN20130033.

MMP-independent role of TIMP-1 at the blood brain barrier during viral encephalomyelitis.

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  • 1*Department of Neurosciences NC-30, Lerner Research Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, U.S.A.
  • 2†Department of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, U.S.A.


Infection of the CNS (central nervous system) with a sublethal neurotropic coronavirus (JHMV) induces a vigorous inflammatory response. CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ T cells are essential to control infectious virus but at the cost of tissue damage. An enigma in understanding the contribution of T cell subsets in pathogenesis resides in their distinct migration pattern across the BBB (blood brain barrier). CD4⁺ T cells transiently accumulate within the perivascular space, whereas CD8⁺ T cells migrate directly into the CNS parenchyma. As MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) facilitate migration across the glia limitans, specific expression of the TIMP (tissue inhibitor of MMPs)-1 by CD4⁺ T cells present in the perivascular cuffs suggested that TIMP-1 is responsible for stalling CD4⁺ T cell migration into the CNS parenchyma. Using TIMP-1 deficient mice, the present data demonstrate an increase rather than a decrease in CD4⁺ T cell accumulation within the perivascular space during JHMV infection. Whereas virus control was not affected by perivascular retention of CD4⁺ T cells, disease severity was decreased and associated with reduced IFNγ (interferon γ) production. Moreover, decreased CD4⁺ T cell recruitment into the CNS parenchyma of TIMP-1 deficient mice was not associated with impaired T cell recruiting chemokines or MMP expression, and no compensation by other TIMP molecules was identified. These data suggest an MMP-independent role of TIMP-1 in regulating CD4⁺ T cell access into the CNS parenchyma during acute JHMV encephalitis.

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