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J Immunol. 2000 Sep 1;165(5):2859-65.

Butyrophilin, a milk protein, modulates the encephalitogenic T cell response to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Neuroimmunology, Max-Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany.


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced by sensitization with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) is a T cell-dependent autoimmune disease that reproduces the inflammatory demyelinating pathology of multiple sclerosis. We report that an encephalitogenic T cell response to MOG can be either induced or alternatively suppressed as a consequence of immunological cross-reactivity, or "molecular mimicry" with the extracellular IgV-like domain of the milk protein butyrophilin (BTN). In the Dark Agouti rat, active immunization with native BTN triggers an inflammatory response in the CNS characterized by the formation of scattered meningeal and perivascular infiltrates of T cells and macrophages. We demonstrate that this pathology is mediated by a MHC class II-restricted T cell response that cross-reacts with the MOG peptide sequence 76-87, I GEG KVA LRIQ N (identities underlined). Conversely, molecular mimicry with BTN can be exploited to suppress disease activity in MOG-induced EAE. We demonstrate that not only is EAE mediated by the adoptive transfer of MOG74-90 T cell lines markedly ameliorated by i.v. treatment with the homologous BTN peptide, BTN74-90, but that this protective effect is also seen in actively induced disease following transmucosal (intranasal) administration of the peptide. These results identify a mechanism by which the consumption of milk products may modulate the pathogenic autoimmune response to MOG.

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