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Front Immunol. 2015 Dec 24;6:636. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00636. eCollection 2015.

B Cells in the Multiple Sclerosis Central Nervous System: Trafficking and Contribution to CNS-Compartmentalized Inflammation.

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Département de Neurosciences, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal , Montréal, QC , Canada.
Neuroimmunology Unit, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University , Montréal, QC , Canada.
Department of Immunology, University of Toronto , Toronto, ON , Canada.
Neuroimmunology Unit, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada; Experimental Therapeutics Program, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada.


Clinical trial results of peripheral B cell depletion indicate abnormal proinflammatory B cell properties, and particularly antibody-independent functions, contribute to relapsing MS disease activity. However, potential roles of B cells in progressive forms of disease continue to be debated. Prior work indicates that presence of B cells is fostered within the inflamed MS central nervous system (CNS) environment, and that B cell-rich immune cell collections may be present within the meninges of patients. A potential association is reported between such meningeal immune cell collections and the subpial pattern of cortical injury that is now considered important in progressive disease. Elucidating the characteristics of B cells that populate the MS CNS, how they traffic into the CNS and how they may contribute to progressive forms of the disease has become of considerable interest. Here, we will review characteristics of human B cells identified within distinct CNS subcompartments of patients with MS, including the cerebrospinal fluid, parenchymal lesions, and meninges, as well as the relationship between B cell populations identified in these subcompartments and the periphery. We will further describe the different barriers of the CNS and the possible mechanisms of migration of B cells across these barriers. Finally, we will consider the range of human B cell responses (including potential for antibody production, cytokine secretion, and antigen presentation) that may contribute to propagating inflammation and injury cascades thought to underlie MS progression.


B cells; central nervous system; meningeal inflammation; multiple sclerosis; trafficking

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