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Brain. 2008 Sep;131(Pt 9):2353-65. doi: 10.1093/brain/awn148. Epub 2008 Jul 10.

Naive CD8 T-cells initiate spontaneous autoimmunity to a sequestered model antigen of the central nervous system.

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Institute for Virology and Immunobiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


In multiple sclerosis, CD8 T-cells are thought play a key pathogenetic role, but mechanistic evidence from rodent models is limited. Here, we have tested the encephalitogenic potential of CD8 T-cells specific for the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA) sequestered in oligodendrocytes as a cytosolic molecule. We show that in these 'ODC-OVA' mice, the neo-self antigen remains invisible to CD4 cells expressing the OVA-specific OT-II receptor. In contrast, OVA is accessible to naïve CD8 T-cells expressing the OT-I T-cell receptor, during the first 10 days of life, resulting in antigen release into the periphery. Introduction of OT-I as a second transgene leads to fulminant demyelinating experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis with multiple sclerosis-like lesions, affecting cerebellum, brainstem, optic nerve and spinal cord. OVA-transgenic oligodendrocytes activate naïve OT-I cells in vitro, and both major histocompatibility complex class I expression and the OT-I response are further up-regulated by interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Release of IFN-gamma into the circulation of ODC-OVA/OT-I double transgenic mice precedes disease manifestation, and pathogenicity of OT-I cells transferred into ODC-OVA mice is largely IFN-gamma dependent. In conclusion, naïve CD8 T-cells gaining access to an 'immune-privileged' organ can initiate autoimmunity via an IFN-gamma-assisted amplification loop even if the self-antigen in question is not spontaneously released for presentation by professional antigen presenting cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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