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J Exp Med. 2000 May 15;191(10):1799-806.

Human nerve growth factor protects common marmosets against autoimmune encephalomyelitis by switching the balance of T helper cell type 1 and 2 cytokines within the central nervous system.

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Department of Neurology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0435, USA.


Multiple sclerosis is a demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), in which an immune attack directed against myelin constituents causes myelin destruction and death of oligodendrocytes, the myelin-producing cells. Here, the efficacy of nerve growth factor (NGF), a growth factor for neurons and oligodendrocytes, in promoting myelin repair was evaluated using the demyelinating model of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) in the common marmoset. Surprisingly, we found that NGF delayed the onset of clinical EAE and, pathologically, prevented the full development of EAE lesions. We demonstrate by immunocytochemistry that NGF exerts its antiinflammatory effect by downregulating the production of interferon gamma by T cells infiltrating the CNS, and upregulating the production of interleukin 10 by glial cells in both inflammatory lesions of EAE and normal-appearing CNS white matter. Thus, NGF, currently under investigation in human clinical trials as a neuronal trophic factor, may be an attractive candidate for therapy of autoimmune demyelinating disorders.

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