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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2011 Oct;31(10):753-68. doi: 10.1089/jir.2011.0052. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

The critical role of antigen-presentation-induced cytokine crosstalk in the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that has been extensively studied using the animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). It is believed that CD4(+) T lymphocytes play an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease by mediating the demyelination of neuronal axons via secretion of proinflammatory cytokines resulting in the clinical manifestations. Although a great deal of information has been gained in the last several decades about the cells involved in the inflammatory and disease mediating process, important questions have remained unanswered. It has long been held that initial neuroantigen presentation and T cell activation events occur in the immune periphery and then translocate to the CNS. However, an increasing body of evidence suggests that antigen (Ag) presentation might initiate within the CNS itself. Importantly, it has remained unresolved which antigen presenting cells (APCs) in the CNS are the first to acquire and present neuroantigens during EAE/MS to T cells, and what the conditions are under which this takes place, ie, whether this occurs in the healthy CNS or only during inflammatory conditions and what the related cytokine microenvironment is comprised of. In particular, the central role of interferon-γ as a primary mediator of CNS pathology during EAE has been challenged by the emergence of Th17 cells producing interleukin-17. This review describes our current understanding of potential APCs in the CNS and the contribution of these and other CNS-resident cells to disease pathology. Additionally, we discuss the question of where Ag presentation is initiated and under what conditions neuroantigens are made available to APCs with special emphasis on which cytokines may be important in this process.

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