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J Exp Med. 1995 Nov 1;182(5):1201-12.

Consequences of cytotoxic T lymphocyte interaction with major histocompatibility complex class I-expressing neurons in vivo.

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  • 1Scripps Research Institute, Department of Neuropharmacology, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.

Abstract

Neurons have evolved strategies to evade immune surveillance that include an inability to synthesize the heavy chain of the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC), proteins that are necessary for cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) recognition of target cells. Multiple viruses have taken advantage of the lack of CTL-mediated recognition and killing of neurons by establishing persistent neuronal infections and thereby escaping attack by antiviral CTL. We have expressed a class I MHC molecule (Db) in neurons of transgenic mice using the neuron-specific enolase (NSE) promoter to determine the pathogenic consequences of CTL recognition of virally infected, MHC-expressing central nervous system (CNS) neurons. The NSE-Db transgene was expressed in H-2b founder mice, and transgene-derived messenger RNA was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in transgenic brains from several lines. Purified primary neurons from transgenic but not from nontransgenic mice adhered to coverslips coated with a conformation-dependent monoclonal antibody directed against the Dv molecule and presented viral peptide to CTL in an MHC-restricted manner, indicating that the Db molecule was expressed on transgenic neurons in a functional form. Transgenic mice infected with the neurotropic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and given anti-LCMV, MHC-restricted CTL displayed a high morbidity and mortality when compared with controls receiving MHC-mismatched CTL or expressing alternative transgenes. After CTL transfer, transgenic brains showed an increased number of CD8+ cells compared with nontransgenic controls as well as an increased rate of clearance of infectious virus from the CNS. Additionally, an increase in blood-brain barrier permeability was detected during viral clearance in NSE-Db transgenic mice and lasted several months after clearance of virus from neurons. In contrast, LCMV-infected, nontransgenic littermates and mice expressing other gene products from the NSE promoter showed no CNS disease, no increased intraparenchymal CTL, and no blood-brain barrier damage after the adoptive transfer of antiviral CTL. Our study indicates that viral infections and CTL-CNS interactions may induce blood-brain barrier disruptions and neurologic disease by a "hit-and-run" mechanism, triggering a cascade of pathogenic events that proceeds in the absence of continual viral stimulation.

PMID:
7595191
PMCID:
PMC2192211
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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