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J Neuroimmunol. 2001 Nov 1;120(1-2):1-9.

The Ras-pathway inhibitor, S-trans-trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid, suppresses experimental allergic encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Neurology and Laboratory of Neuroimmunology, Agnes-Ginges Center for Human Neurogenetics, Hadassah Medical Center, Hebrew University, IL-91120, Jerusalem, Israel.



To evaluate the effects of the synthetic Ras-pathway inhibitor, S-trans-trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) on acute and chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE and CR-EAE).


Treatment of EAE and MS is based on immunosuppression aiming at downregulation of the proliferating myelin-reactive lymphocytes. One of the pathways of lymphocyte activation involves the GTP-binding protein Ras. FTS destabilizes the attachment of Ras to the cell membrane, resulting in an inhibition of the Ras-mediated signal transduction pathways.


EAE was induced in SJL/J mice by immunization with spinal cord homogenate (MSCH) in adjuvant and two i.v. boosts of pertussis antigen and CR-EAE with passive transfer of proteolipid protein (PLP)-activated lymphocytes. Animals were treated daily starting either from the day of EAE-induction (or cell transfer) or at a later stage, with i.p. injections of FTS (5 mg/kg/day). The clinical severity of the disease was evaluated daily and scored using a 0-6 scale.


In six separate experiments, 27 of the 38 (71.7%) vehicle-treated animals developed clinical signs of EAE compared to 17/38 (44.7%) of the FTS-treated mice (p=0.02, t-test). The maximal average score in the control group was 2.94+/-2.2, whereas in the FTS group it was significantly lower (1.63+/-2.2, p=0.01). Mortality was 26.3% and 10.5% in the two groups, respectively (p=0.03). When treatment was initiated at a later stage, just before the onset of the clinical signs, the protective effect was even more pronounced. A significant suppression of clinical signs was also observed in the CR-EAE model (p=0.02). Lymphocyte proliferation assays demonstrated a more than twofold decrease in the reactivity to myelin antigens (MBP and PLP) and downregulation of the activated lymphocytes (expressing the CD62L, and IA-k-MHC Class I markers and the Vb17 T-cell receptor) in the FTS-treated group; in vitro FTS suppressed the Ras activity of lymphocytes and inhibited the proliferative ability of the lymphocytes in a dose-dependent manner.


FTS suppresses EAE by downregulation of myelin-reactive activated T-lymphocytes. Since FTS did not induce generalized immunosuppressive effects, it may offer significant advantages over the broad immunosuppressive modalities and may be a candidate treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as MS.

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