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Genes Immun. 2011 Jan;12(1):1-14. doi: 10.1038/gene.2010.49. Epub 2010 Sep 23.

IL-7Rα confers susceptibility to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Neuroscience Research Laboratory, Methodist Research Institute, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder that causes paralysis in young adults and affects women more frequently than men. The etiology of MS is not known, but it is generally viewed as an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS), influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Recent studies have identified interleukin-7 receptor α (IL-7Rα) as a risk factor for MS. But the role of IL-7Rα in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of MS is not known. In this study we demonstrate that IL-7Rα-deficient (IL-7Rα(-/-)) mice remain resistant to MOGp35-55-induced EAE. When compared with C57BL/6 wild-type mice, IL-7Rα(-/-) mice showed less severe inflammation and demyelination in the CNS. The attenuation of EAE in IL-7Rα(-/-) mice was associated with a decrease in T-helper (Th) 1 and Th17 responses in the CNS and lymphoid organs. IL-7Rα(-/-) mice also showed an increase in Th2 response and CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. These findings highlight that IL-7Rα confers susceptibility by influencing autoimmune Th1/Th17 responses in EAE model of MS.

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