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Nat Med. 2011 Apr;17(4):488-94. doi: 10.1038/nm.2321. Epub 2011 Mar 20.

RGMa modulates T cell responses and is involved in autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.


In multiple sclerosis, activated CD4(+) T cells initiate an immune response in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in demyelination, degeneration and progressive paralysis. Repulsive guidance molecule-a (RGMa) is an axon guidance molecule that has a role in the visual system and in neural tube closure. Our study shows that RGMa is expressed in bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) and that CD4(+) T cells express neogenin, a receptor for RGMa. Binding of RGMa to CD4(+) T cells led to activation of the small GTPase Rap1 and increased adhesion of T cells to intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Neutralizing antibodies to RGMa attenuated clinical symptoms of mouse myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and reduced invasion of inflammatory cells into the CNS. Silencing of RGMa in MOG-pulsed BMDCs reduced their capacity to induce EAE following adoptive transfer to naive C57BL/6 mice. CD4(+) T cells isolated from mice treated with an RGMa-specific antibody showed diminished proliferative responses and reduced interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4 and IL-17 secretion. Incubation of PBMCs from patients with multiple sclerosis with an RGMa-specific antibody reduced proliferative responses and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. These results demonstrate that an RGMa-specific antibody suppresses T cell responses, and suggest that RGMa could be a promising molecular target for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

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