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J Clin Invest. 1996 Mar 15;97(6):1512-24.

Macrophage/microglial-mediated primary demyelination and motor disease induced by the central nervous system production of interleukin-3 in transgenic mice.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Activated macrophage/microglia may mediate tissue injury in a variety of CNS disorders. To examine this, transgenic mice were developed in which the expression of a macrophage/microglia activation cytokine, interleukin-3 (IL-3), was targeted to astrocytes using a murine glial fibrillary acidic protein fusion gene. Transgenic mice with low levels of IL-3 expression developed from 5 mo of age, a progressive motor disorder characterized at onset by impaired rota-rod performance. In symptomatic transgenic mice, multi-focal, plaque-like white matter lesions were present in cerebellum and brain stem. Lesions showed extensive primary demyelination and remyelination in association with the accumulation of large numbers of proliferating and activated foamy macrophage/microglial cells. Many of these cells also contained intracisternal crystalline pole-like inclusions similar to those seen in human patients with multiple sclerosis. Mast cells were also identified while lymphocytes were rarely, if at all present. Thus, chronic CNS production of low levels of IL-3 promotes the recruitment, proliferation and activation of macrophage/microglial cells in white matter regions with consequent primary demyelination and motor disease. This transgenic model exhibits many of the features of human inflammatory demyelinating diseases including multiple sclerosis and HIV leukoencephalopathy.

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