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Nature. 1984 Jan 19-25;307(5948):273-6.

Astrocytes present myelin basic protein to encephalitogenic T-cell lines.


Astrocyte proliferation and perivascular lymphocyte infiltration are conspicuous among the cellular changes in the active brain lesions of multiple sclerosis patients. Recent observations have indicated that most of the perivascular lymphocytes are T cells which may be actively involved in the generation of the brain lesions. Much less is known about the significance of the proliferative astrocytes, although the fact that they produce an interleukin-1 (IL-1)-like factor that enhances the release of interleukin-2 by T lymphocytes, may provide a clue. We show here that rat astrocytes are able to present antigen to T lymphocytes in a specific manner which is restricted by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and that they can in particular activate myelin basic protein (BP)-specific, encephalitogenic T-cell lines. Only on such interaction do astrocytes express Ia antigens in easily detectable amounts. Antigen presentation by astrocytes may have a central role in the generation of immune responses in the brain.

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