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Plasmablasts are a highly differentiated, antibody secreting B cell subset whose prevalence correlates with disease activity in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). For most patients experiencing partial transverse myelitis (PTM), plasmablasts are elevated in the blood at the first clinical presentation of disease (known as a clinically isolated syndrome or CIS). In this study we found that many of these peripheral plasmablasts are autoreactive and recognize primarily gray matter targets in brain tissue. These plasmablasts express antibodies that over-utilize immunoglobulin heavy chain V-region subgroup 4 (VH4) genes, and the highly mutated VH4+ plasmablast antibodies recognize intracellular antigens of neurons and astrocytes. Most of the autoreactive, highly mutated VH4+ plasmablast antibodies recognize only a portion of cortical neurons, indicating that the response may be specific to neuronal subgroups or layers. Furthermore, CIS-PTM patients with this plasmablast response also exhibit modest reactivity toward neuroantigens in the plasma IgG antibody pool. Taken together, these data indicate that expanded VH4+ peripheral plasmablasts in early MS patients recognize brain gray matter antigens. Peripheral plasmablasts may be participating in the autoimmune response associated with MS, and provide an interesting avenue for investigating the expansion of autoreactive B cells at the time of the first documented clinical event.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s00401-016-1627-0

Type

Journal article

Journal

Acta Neuropathol

Publication Date

01/2017

Volume

133

Pages

43 - 60

Keywords

Antigen receptor genetics, Autoantibody, B cell, Multiple sclerosis, Plasmablast, Adult, Aged, Astrocytes, Autoantibodies, B-Lymphocytes, Brain, Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental, Female, Gray Matter, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuromyelitis Optica, Neurons, Plasma Cells, Stroke, Young Adult