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J Exp Med. 2004 Apr 5;199(7):947-57. Epub 2004 Mar 29.

Prevention of autoimmunity by targeting a distinct, noninvariant CD1d-reactive T cell population reactive to sulfatide.

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La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.


Class I and class II MHC-restricted T cells specific for proteins present in myelin have been shown to be involved in autoimmunity in the central nervous system (CNS). It is not yet known whether CD1d-restricted T cells reactive to myelin-derived lipids are present in the CNS and might be targeted to influence the course of autoimmune demyelination. Using specific glycolipid-CD1d tetramers and cloned T cells we have characterized a T cell population reactive to a myelin-derived glycolipid, sulfatide, presented by CD1d. This population is distinct from the invariant Valpha14+ NK T cells, and a panel of Valpha3/Valpha8+ CD1d-restricted NK T cell hybridomas is unable to recognize sulfatide in the presence of CD1d+ antigen-presenting cells. Interestingly, during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis a model for human multiple sclerosis, sulfatide-reactive T cells but not invariant NK T cells are increased severalfold in CNS tissue. Moreover, treatment of mice with sulfatide prevents antigen-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in wild-type but not in CD1d-deficient mice. Disease prevention correlates with the ability of sulfatide to suppress both interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 production by pathogenic myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-reactive T cells. Since recognition of sulfatide by CD1d-restricted T cells has now been shown both in mice and humans, study of murine myelin lipid-reactive T cells may form a basis for the development of intervention strategies in human autoimmune demyelinating diseases.

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