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Blood. 2004 Jun 1;103(11):4222-31. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

High prevalence of autoreactive, neuroantigen-specific CD8+ T cells in multiple sclerosis revealed by novel flow cytometric assay.

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Department of Pathology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75390-9072, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with features suggestive of T-cell-mediated pathology. Most prior reports have focused on CD4(+) T cells with the underlying assumption that MS is predominantly a CD4(+) T helper 1 (Th1)-mediated disease. In this report, we used a novel flow cytometric approach to evaluate autoreactive T-cell responses against a large variety of neuroantigenic targets. We found that both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells targeted against several CNS autoantigens were widely prevalent in patients with MS and healthy individuals. Whereas the distribution of CD4(+) responses was similar in different groups, patients with relapsing-remitting MS showed a higher proportion of CNS-specific CD8(+) responses. Autoreactive CD4(+) T cells from patients with MS exhibited a more differentiated Th1 phenotype compared with healthy subjects. Similarly, CNS-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses from patients with MS were functionally distinct from those in healthy individuals. Collectively, these studies reveal the high prevalence of class I-restricted autoreactive CD8(+) T-cell responses in MS that has been underappreciated thus far. The results emphasize the need to evaluate both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses in MS and to make both subsets a consideration in the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

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