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Front Immunol. 2018 Mar 19;9:509. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00509. eCollection 2018.

Detailed Characterization of T Cell Receptor Repertoires in Multiple Sclerosis Brain Lesions.

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Neuroimmunology and MS Research (nims), Department of Neurology, University Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Institute of Neuropathology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.


The antigen-specific activation of pathogenic T cells is considered essential in the initiation and maintenance of multiple sclerosis (MS). The site of activation, the differential involvement of CD4+, and CD8+ T cells, their functional phenotype, and specificity, are important aspects to understand MS pathogenesis. The analysis of clonal expansions of brain-infiltrating T cells may reveal local antigen-driven activation or specific brain homing and allow the identification of putatively pathogenic T cells. We used high-throughput T cell receptor β-chain variable gene (TRBV) sequencing (-seq) of genomic (g)DNA, which reflects the quantity and diversity of the TRBV repertoire, to characterize three white matter demyelinating lesions with different location and inflammatory activity, and paired peripheral blood memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cell pools from a secondary progressive (SP)MS patient. Our results revealed an important sharing of clonally expanded T cells with identical TRBV sequence (clonotypes) across MS lesions independently of their proximity or inflammatory activity. Comparison with circulating T cells showed that the most frequent brain-infiltrating CD8+, but not CD4+ clonotypes were also those with highest frequency in the peripheral blood, indicating clonal expansion inside the brain or specific brain homing of CD4+ but not CD8+ T cells. Parallel TRBV-seq of complementary (c)DNA that reflects the activation status of the cells, revealed differences between lesions regarding inflammatory activity and appears to facilitate the identification of putatively pathogenic T cells in active lesions. Approaches to identify pathogenic T cells in brain lesions using TRBV-seq may benefit from focusing on lesions with high inflammatory activity and from combining gDNA and cDNA sequencing.


CD4+ T cell; CD8+ T cell; T cell receptor; brain lesions; multiple sclerosis

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