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JCI Insight. 2017 Apr 6;2(7):e92362. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.92362.

GM-CSF is not essential for experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis but promotes brain-targeted disease.

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1
Department of Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Abstract

Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) has been used as an animal model of multiple sclerosis to identify pathogenic cytokines that could be therapeutic targets. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is the only cytokine reported to be essential for EAE. We investigated the role of GM-CSF in EAE in C3HeB/FeJ mice that uniquely exhibit extensive brain and spinal cord inflammation. Unexpectedly, GM-CSF-deficient C3HeB/FeJ mice were fully susceptible to EAE because IL-17 activity compensated for the loss of GM-CSF during induction of spinal cord-targeted disease. In contrast, both GM-CSF and IL-17 were needed to fully overcome the inhibitory influence of IFN-γ on the induction of inflammation in the brain. Both GM-CSF and IL-17 independently promoted neutrophil accumulation in the brain, which was essential for brain-targeted disease. These results identify a GM-CSF/IL-17/IFN-γ axis that regulates inflammation in the central nervous system and suggest that a combination of cytokine-neutralizing therapies may be needed to dampen central nervous system autoimmunity.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

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