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Neuroscience. 1996 Sep;74(2):599-608.

The potential role of dendritic cells in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases in the central nervous system.

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University Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, U.K.


Dendritic cells of the rat were studied immunohistochemically with MRC OX62 monoclonal antibody and using electron microscopy. In normal CNS, a small number of OX62+ cells was detected in the choroid plexus and meninges. These cells were absent from other CNS and peripheral nervous system sites studied. Dendritic cells were also studied in two models of immune-mediated inflammatory conditions in the CNS. These were: acute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and aberrant delayed-type hypersensitivity lesions induced as a response to heat-killed bacillus Calmette-Guérin sequestrated behind the blood-brain barrier. In addition, a group of animals with a delayed-type hypersensitivity response was treated with dexamethasone to assess the effect of steroid treatment on T-cells and OX62+ cells in CNS lesions. Dendritic cells were present in many but not all lesions in acute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis and their numbers were small. In experimental allergic encephalomyelitis lesions, dendritic cells were found predominantly in perivascular cuffs, where they constituted approximately 2% of the total number of major histocompatibility complex class II+ cells. Some of these cells were also detected in the CNS parenchyma, close to the perivascular cuff. In contrast, dendritic cells were present in all delayed-type hypersensitivity lesions studied. Their number in delayed-type hypersensitivity lesions was significantly higher than in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis lesions. Numerous OX62+ cells were found, even in three-month-old lesions. Electron microscopy studies revealed that these cells were often in close contact with lymphocytes. There was no significant change in the density of OX62+ cells, IL2R+ cells and OX19+ T-cells in delayed-type hypersensitivity lesions after seven-day treatment with dexamethasone, although there was a considerable reduction in the number of CD45RA+ T-cells. The high numbers of dendritic cells found in the delayed-type hypersensitivity lesions may be important in contributing to the chronicity of the response. They may also initiate autoimmune responses to CNS antigens uncovered during bystander tissue damage which occurs as a consequence of aberrant delayed-type hypersensitivity responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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