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Exp Neurol. 1998 Apr;150(2):282-95.

Expression of MHC class I and beta2-microglobulin in rat spinal motoneurons: regulatory influences by IFN-gamma and axotomy.

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Department of Neurology, Huddinge Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The low expression of MHC antigens is believed to be one factor of importance contributing to the immune-privileged status of CNS neurons. We here describe that motoneurons, in contrast to other nerve cells in the lumbar spinal cord of the adult rat, express both MHC class I and beta2-microglobulin mRNA. The motoneurons also display in situ hybridization signal for IFN-gamma receptor mRNA. After a peripheral axotomy, the motoneurons show a clear upregulation of beta2-microglobulin mRNA. IFN-gamma treatment of cultured rat embryonic spinal motoneurons causes a similar upregulation of especially beta2-microglobulin. Based on these facts, we propose that spinal motoneurons can be influenced by IFN-gamma and recognized by cytotoxic CD8+ T-cells. These findings could be of relevance in the search for pathogenetic mechanisms in motoneuron-specific diseases, such as ALS.

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