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Ann Neurol. 1988 Oct;24(4):523-31.

Dual-label immunocytochemistry of the active multiple sclerosis lesion: major histocompatibility complex and activation antigens.

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Neuroimmunology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Fresh-frozen autopsy material containing active inflammatory lesions from 9 different patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) was analyzed by immunocytochemistry using a panel of monoclonal antibodies, and a dual-label immunocytochemical method was developed which permitted the simultaneous detection of two different surface markers on a single cell. We now report the following. (1) The predominant T-cell phenotype within MS lesions is CD2,3,8. This phenotype marks the suppressor-cytotoxic subset. (2) These cells do not express the natural killer cell marker NKH-1, which is present on a subset of CD8-positive cells in peripheral blood. (3) The infiltrating cell expresses class I (HLA A, B, C), but not class II (DR and DQ), major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. (4) Other T-cell surface molecules, including the activation antigens interleukin-2 receptor, Ta1, and T11-3, as well as the marker 2H4, are largely not expressed. (5) Endothelial cells express both class I and class II MHC molecules and the 4B4 molecule in both MS and control tissue. (6) Astrocytes within the vicinity of MS lesions are predominantly class II MHC-negative. These results demonstrate that the T-cell infiltrate present in MS tissue on autopsy has a restricted phenotypic profile, but they also raise the possibility that, within this population, few activated effector cells are present.

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