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Immunology. 2009 Jan;126(1):92-101. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.02881.x. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

The T-cell pool is anergized in patients with multiple sclerosis in remission.

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Clinical Immunology Division, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is a complex autoimmune disease of the central nervous system with oscillating phases of relapse and remission. RRMS has been considered to be driven by T helper type 1 (Th1) lymphocytes but new data indicate the involvement of Th17 responses. In the present study, blood samples from patients (n=48) and healthy individuals (n=44) were evaluated for their immunological status. T cells from patients with RRMS expressed high levels of the activation marker CD28 (P<0.05) and secreted both interferon-gamma (CD8: P<0.05) and interleukin-17 upon polyclonal mitogen or myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antigen stimulation. However, T cells from patients with RRMS in remission, in contrast to relapse, had poor proliferative capacity (P<0.05) suggesting that they are controlled and kept in anergy. This anergy could be broken with CD28 stimulation that restored the T-cell replication. Furthermore, the patients with RRMS had normal levels of CD4(+) Foxp3(+) T regulatory cells but the frequency of Foxp3(+) cells lacking CD127 (interleukin-7 receptor) was lower in patients with MS (mean 12%) compared to healthy controls (mean 29%). Still, regulatory cells (CD25(+) sorted cells) from patients with RRMS displayed no difference in suppressive capacity. In conclusion, patients in relapse/remission demonstrate in vitro T-cell responses that are both Th1 and Th17 that, while in remission, appear to be controlled by tolerogenic mechanisms yet to be investigated.

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