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  • Dismutase-competent SOD1 mutant accumulation in myelinating Schwann cells is not detrimental to normal or transgenic ALS model mice.

    24 October 2018

    Mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) action within non-neuronal cells is implicated in damage to spinal motor neurons in a genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Central nervous system glial cells such as astrocytes and microglia drive progression in transgenic mutant SOD1 mice, however, the role of myelinating glia remains unclear. Specifically, peripheral myelinating glial cells are likely candidates for mediating degeneration of distal synapses and axons of motor neurons in ALS. Here, we examine the potential contribution of peripheral axon ensheathing Schwann cells to ALS by constructing transgenic mice expressing dismutase active mutant SOD1(G93A) driven by the myelin protein zero (P0) promoter. In this model, mutant SOD1 accumulation in Schwann cells was comparable to levels in mice ubiquitously expressing a SOD1(G93A) transgene that become paralysed. Growth, locomotion and survival of these P0-SOD1(G93A) mice were indistinguishable from normal animals. There was no evidence for spinal motor neuron loss, distal axonal degeneration and p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) upregulation in the periphery of P0-SOD1(G93A) mice, unlike transgenic SOD1(G93A) mice with presymptomatic p75(NTR) induction and death-signalling. Furthermore, Schwann cells were resistant to mutant SOD1 aggregation in vivo and in transfected primary cultures. Increasing mutant SOD1 synthesis in Schwann cells by cross-breeding transgenic P0-SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G93A) mice did not affect disease onset or survival. We conclude that dismutase-competent mutant SOD1 accumulation within Schwann cells is not pathological to spinal motor neurons or deleterious to disease course in transgenic ALS model mice, in contrast to astrocytes and microglia.

  • Pre-symptomatic development of lower motor neuron connectivity in a mouse model of severe spinal muscular atrophy.

    24 October 2018

    The childhood motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) results from reduced expression of the survival motor neuron (SMN) gene. Previous studies using in vitro model systems and lower organisms have suggested that low levels of Smn protein disrupt prenatal developmental processes in lower motor neurons, influencing neuronal outgrowth, axon branching and neuromuscular connectivity. The extent to which these developmental pathways contribute to selective vulnerability and pathology in the mammalian neuromuscular system in vivo remains unclear. Here, we have investigated the pre-symptomatic development of neuromuscular connectivity in differentially vulnerable motor neuron populations in Smn(-/-);SMN2 mice, a model of severe SMA. We show that reduced Smn levels have no detectable effect on morphological correlates of pre-symptomatic development in either vulnerable or stable motor units, indicating that abnormal pre-symptomatic developmental processes are unlikely to be a prerequisite for subsequent pathological changes to occur in vivo. Microarray analyses of spinal cord from two different severe SMA mouse models demonstrated that only minimal changes in gene expression were present in pre-symptomatic mice. In stark contrast, microarray analysis of late-symptomatic spinal cord revealed widespread changes in gene expression, implicating extracellular matrix integrity, growth factor signalling and myelination pathways in SMA pathogenesis. Taken together, these data suggest that reduced Smn levels induce SMA pathology by instigating rapidly progressive neurodegenerative pathways in lower motor neurons around the time of disease onset rather than by modulating pre-symptomatic neurodevelopmental pathways.

  • Acid-sensing ion channel 1 is involved in both axonal injury and demyelination in multiple sclerosis and its animal model

    24 October 2018

    Although there is growing evidence for a role of excess intracellular cations, particularly calcium ions, in neuronal and glial cell injury in multiple sclerosis, as well as in non-inflammatory neurological conditions, the molecular mechanisms involved are not fully determined. We previously showed that the acid-sensing ion channel 1 which, when activated under the acidotic tissue conditions found in inflammatory lesions opens to allow influx of sodium and calcium ions, contributes to axonal injury in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis. However, the extent and cellular distribution of acid-sensing ion channel 1 expression in neurons and glia in inflammatory lesions is unknown and, crucially, acid-sensing ion channel 1 expression has not been determined in multiple sclerosis lesions. Here we studied acute and chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis spinal cord and optic nerve tissues to describe in detail the distribution of acid-sensing ion channel 1 and its relationship with neuronal and glial damage. We also tested the effects of amiloride treatment on tissue damage in the mouse models. We found that acid-sensing ion channel 1 was upregulated in axons and oligodendrocytes within lesions from mice with acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and from patients with active multiple sclerosis. The expression of acid-sensing ion channel 1 was associated with axonal damage as indicated by co-localization with the axonal injury marker beta amyloid precursor protein. Moreover, blocking acid-sensing ion channel 1 with amiloride protected both myelin and neurons from damage in the acute model, and when given either at disease onset or, more clinically relevant, at first relapse, ameliorated disability in mice with chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Together these findings suggest that blockade of acid-sensing ion channel 1 has the potential to provide both neuro- and myelo-protective benefits in multiple sclerosis. © 2011 The Author.

  • Opposing effects of HLA class I molecules in tuning autoreactive CD8+ T cells in multiple sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    The major known genetic risk factors in multiple sclerosis reside in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region. Although there is strong evidence implicating MHC class II alleles and CD4(+) T cells in multiple sclerosis pathogenesis, possible contributions from MHC class I genes and CD8(+) T cells are controversial. We have generated humanized mice expressing the multiple sclerosis-associated MHC class I alleles HLA-A(*)0301 (encoding human leukocyte antigen-A3 (HLA-A3)) and HLA-A(*)0201 (encoding HLA-A2) and a myelin-specific autoreactive T cell receptor (TCR) derived from a CD8(+) T cell clone from an individual with multiple sclerosis to study mechanisms of disease susceptibility. We demonstrate roles for HLA-A3-restricted CD8(+) T cells in induction of multiple sclerosis-like disease and for CD4(+) T cells in its progression, and we also define a possible mechanism for HLA-A(*)0201-mediated protection. To our knowledge, these data provide the first direct evidence incriminating MHC class I genes and CD8(+) T cells in the pathogenesis of human multiple sclerosis and reveal a network of MHC interactions that shape the risk of multiple sclerosis.

  • Axonal injury in reverse.

    24 October 2018

  • IL-21 and IL-21 receptor expression in lymphocytes and neurons in multiple sclerosis brain.

    24 October 2018

    IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells (Th-17) contribute to the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and are associated with active disease in multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition to IL-17, Th-17 cells can also express IL-21, IL-22, and IL-6 under Th-17-polarizing conditions (IL-6 and transforming growth factor-β). In this study we investigated IL-21 and IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) expression in MS lesions by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. We detected strongly IL-21(+) infiltrating cells predominantly in acute but also in chronic active white matter MS lesions in which IL-21 expression was restricted to CD4(+) cells. In contrast, IL-21R was much more broadly distributed on CD4(+), CD19(+), and CD8(+) lymphocytes but not major histocompatibility complex class-II(+) macrophages/microglia. Interestingly, in cortical areas we detected both IL-21 and IL-21R expression by neurons. These findings suggest role(s) for IL-21 in both the acute and chronic stages of MS via direct effects on T and B lymphocytes and, demonstrated for the first time, also on neurons.

  • Acid-sensing ion channel 1 is involved in both axonal injury and demyelination in multiple sclerosis and its animal model.

    24 October 2018

    Although there is growing evidence for a role of excess intracellular cations, particularly calcium ions, in neuronal and glial cell injury in multiple sclerosis, as well as in non-inflammatory neurological conditions, the molecular mechanisms involved are not fully determined. We previously showed that the acid-sensing ion channel 1 which, when activated under the acidotic tissue conditions found in inflammatory lesions opens to allow influx of sodium and calcium ions, contributes to axonal injury in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis. However, the extent and cellular distribution of acid-sensing ion channel 1 expression in neurons and glia in inflammatory lesions is unknown and, crucially, acid-sensing ion channel 1 expression has not been determined in multiple sclerosis lesions. Here we studied acute and chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis spinal cord and optic nerve tissues to describe in detail the distribution of acid-sensing ion channel 1 and its relationship with neuronal and glial damage. We also tested the effects of amiloride treatment on tissue damage in the mouse models. We found that acid-sensing ion channel 1 was upregulated in axons and oligodendrocytes within lesions from mice with acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and from patients with active multiple sclerosis. The expression of acid-sensing ion channel 1 was associated with axonal damage as indicated by co-localization with the axonal injury marker beta amyloid precursor protein. Moreover, blocking acid-sensing ion channel 1 with amiloride protected both myelin and neurons from damage in the acute model, and when given either at disease onset or, more clinically relevant, at first relapse, ameliorated disability in mice with chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Together these findings suggest that blockade of acid-sensing ion channel 1 has the potential to provide both neuro- and myelo-protective benefits in multiple sclerosis.

  • Interleukin-17 production in central nervous system-infiltrating T cells and glial cells is associated with active disease in multiple sclerosis.

    24 October 2018

    Recent findings in the animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS), experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, implicate a novel CD4+ T-cell subset (TH17), characterized by the secretion of interleukin-17 (IL-17), in disease pathogenesis. To elucidate its role in MS, brain tissues from patients with MS were compared to controls. We detected expression of IL-17 mRNA (by in situ hybridization) and protein (by immunohistochemistry) in perivascular lymphocytes as well as in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes located in the active areas of MS lesions. Further, we found a significant increase in the number of IL-17+ T cells in active rather than inactive areas of MS lesions. Specifically, double immunofluorescence showed that IL-17 immunoreactivity was detected in 79% of T cells in acute lesions, 73% in active areas of chronic active lesions, but in only 17% of those in inactive lesions and 7% in lymph node control tissue. CD8+, as well as CD4+, T cells were equally immunostained for IL-17 in MS tissues. Interestingly, and in contrast to lymph node T cells, no perivascular T cells showed FoxP3 expression, a marker of regulatory T cells, at any stage of MS lesions. These observations suggest an enrichment of both IL-17+CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in active MS lesions as well as an important role for IL-17 in MS pathogenesis, with some remarkable differences from the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model.

  • T cell-mediated autoimmune disease due to low-affinity crossreactivity to common microbial peptides.

    24 October 2018

    Environmental factors account for 75% of the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Numerous infections have been suspected as environmental disease triggers, but none of them has consistently been incriminated, and it is unclear how so many different infections may play a role. We show that a microbial peptide, common to several major classes of bacteria, can induce MS-like disease in humanized mice by crossreacting with a T cell receptor (TCR) that also recognizes a peptide from myelin basic protein, a candidate MS autoantigen. Structural analysis demonstrates this crossreactivity is due to structural mimicry of a binding hotspot shared by self and microbial antigens, rather than to degenerate TCR recognition. Biophysical studies reveal that the autoreactive TCR binding affinity is markedly lower for the microbial (mimicry) peptide than for the autoantigenic peptide. Thus, these data suggest a possible explanation for the difficulty in incriminating individual infections in the development of MS.