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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Jul;28(7):2178-87.

IL-6-deficient mice resist myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-induced autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.


Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is induced by immunization with myelin components including myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Myelin-specific Th1 cells enter the central nervous system (CNS) via binding of very late antigen 4 (VLA-4) to the endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1). In the present study, mice with a homologous disruption of the gene encoding IL-6 are found to be resistant to MOG-induced EAE as evidenced by absence of clinical symptoms, minimal infiltration of CD3+ T cells and monocytes into the CNS and lack of demyelination. The failure to induce EAE in IL-6-/- mice is not due to the absence of priming, since lymphocytes of immunized IL-6-/- mice proliferate in response to MOG and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-2 and IFN-gamma. However, in MOG-immunized IL-6-/- mice, serum anti-MOG antibody titers were found to be drastically reduced. This observation is unlikely to be responsible for resistance to EAE, because B cell-deficient (microMT) mice proved to be fully susceptible to the disease. A striking difference between MOG-immunized wild-type (wt) and IL-6-/- mice was the expression of endothelial VCAM-1 and ICAM-1, which were dramatically up-regulated in the CNS in wt but not in IL-6-/- mice. Taking into account recent studies on the role of VCAM-1 in the entry of Th1 cells into the CNS, the absence of VCAM-1 on endothelial cells in IL-6-/- mice may explain their resistance to EAE.

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