Laquinimod (LAQ) is a new oral immunomodulatory compound that reduces relapse rate, brain atrophy and disability progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). LAQ has well-documented effects on inflammation in the periphery, but little is known about its direct activity within the central nervous system (CNS). To elucidate the impact of LAQ on CNS-intrinsic inflammation, we investigated the effects of LAQ on cuprizone-induced demyelination in mice in vivo and on primary CNS cells in vitro. Demyelination, inflammation, axonal damage and glial pathology were evaluated in LAQ-treated wild type and Rag-1-deficient mice after cuprizone challenge. Using primary cells we tested for effects of LAQ on oligodendroglial survival as well as on cytokine secretion and NF-κB activation in astrocytes and microglia. LAQ prevented cuprizone-induced demyelination, microglial activation, axonal transections, reactive gliosis and oligodendroglial apoptoses in wild type and Rag-1-deficient mice. LAQ significantly decreased pro-inflammatory factors in stimulated astrocytes, but not in microglia. Oligodendroglial survival was not affected by LAQ in vitro. Astrocytic, but not microglial, NF-κB activation was markedly reduced by LAQ as evidenced by NF-κB reporter assay. LAQ also significantly decreased astrocytic NF-κB activation in cuprizone-treated mice. Our data indicate that LAQ prevents cuprizone-induced demyelination by attenuating astrocytic NF-κB activation. These effects are CNS-intrinsic and not mediated by peripheral immune cells. Therefore, LAQ downregulation of the astrocytic pro-inflammatory response may be an important mechanism underlying its protective effects on myelin, oligodendrocytes and axons. Modulation of astrocyte activation may be an attractive therapeutic target to prevent tissue damage in MS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1009-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Demyelination; Laquinimod; Cuprizone; Astrocytes; NF-κB; Multiple sclerosis
Cortical disease has emerged as a critical aspect of the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, being associated with disease progression and cognitive impairment. Most studies of cortical lesions have focused on autopsy findings in patients with long-standing, chronic, progressive multiple sclerosis, and the noninflammatory nature of these lesions has been emphasized. Magnetic resonance imaging studies indicate that cortical damage occurs early in the disease.
We evaluated the prevalence and character of demyelinating cortical lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis. Cortical tissues were obtained in passing during biopsy sampling of white-matter lesions. In most cases, biopsy was done with the use of stereotactic procedures to diagnose suspected tumors. Patients with sufficient cortex (138 of 563 patients screened) were evaluated for cortical demyelination. Using immunohistochemistry, we characterized cortical lesions with respect to demyelinating activity, inflammatory infiltrates, the presence of meningeal inflammation, and a topographic association between cortical demyelination and meningeal inflammation. Diagnoses were ascertained in a subgroup of 77 patients (56%) at the last follow-up visit (at a median of 3.5 years).
Cortical demyelination was present in 53 patients (38%) (104 lesions and 222 tissue blocks) and was absent in 85 patients (121 tissue blocks). Twenty-five patients with cortical demyelination had definite multiple sclerosis (81% of 31 patients who underwent long-term follow-up), as did 33 patients without cortical demyelination (72% of 46 patients who underwent long-term follow-up). In representative tissues, 58 of 71 lesions (82%) showed CD3+ T-cell infiltrates, and 32 of 78 lesions (41%) showed macrophage-associated demyelination. Meningeal inflammation was topographically associated with cortical demyelination in patients who had sufficient meningeal tissue for study.
In this cohort of patients with early-stage multiple sclerosis, cortical demyelinating lesions were frequent, inflammatory, and strongly associated with meningeal inflammation. (Funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Institutes of Health.)
We investigated the overlap shared between the immunoglobulin (Ig) proteome of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the B cell Ig-transcriptome of CSF and the central nervous system (CNS) tissue of three patients with multiple sclerosis. We determined the IgG-proteomes of CSF by mass spectrometry, and compared them to the IgG-transcriptomes from CSF and brain lesions, which were analyzed by cDNA cloning. Characteristic peptides that were identified in the CSF-proteome could also be detected in the transcriptomes of both, brain lesions and CSF, providing evidence for a strong overlap of the IgG repertoires in brain lesions and in the CSF.
multiple sclerosis; B cells; cerebrospinal fluid; central nervous system; oligoclonal bands
Natalizumab is an approved medication for highly active multiple sclerosis (MS). Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) may occur as a severe side effect of this drug. Here, we describe pathological and radiological characteristics of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), which occurs in natalizumab-associated PML after the cessation of therapy, and we differentiate it from ongoing PML. Brain biopsy tissue and MRI scans from five MS patients with natalizumab-associated PML were analyzed and their histology compared with non-MS PML. Histology showed an extensive CD8-dominated T cell infiltrate and numerous macrophages within lesions, and in nondemyelinated white and grey matter, in four out of five cases. Few or no virally infected cells were found. This was indicative of IRIS as known from HIV patients with PML. Outstandingly high numbers of plasma cells were present as compared to non-MS PML and typical MS lesions. MRI was compatible with IRIS, revealing enlarging lesions with a band-like or speckled contrast enhancement either at the lesion edge or within lesions. Only the fifth patient showed typical PML pathology, with low inflammation and high numbers of virally infected cells. This patient showed a similar interval between drug withdrawal and biopsy (3.5 months) to the rest of the cohort (range 2.5–4 months). MRI could not differentiate between PML-associated IRIS and ongoing PML. We describe in detail the histopathology of IRIS in natalizumab-associated PML. PML–IRIS, ongoing PML infection, and MS exacerbation may be impossible to discern clinically alone. MRI may provide some clues for distinguishing different pathologies that can be differentiated histologically. In our individual cases, biopsy helped to clarify diagnoses in natalizumab-associated PML.
IRIS; Natalizumab; PML; MS; Pathology; MRI
To determine reciprocal and synergistic effects of acute intracranial hypertension and ARDS on neuronal and pulmonary damage and to define possible mechanisms.
Twenty-eight mechanically ventilated pigs were randomized to four groups of seven each: control; acute intracranial hypertension (AICH); acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); acute respiratory distress syndrome in combination with acute intracranial hypertension (ARDS + AICH). AICH was induced with an intracranial balloon catheter and the inflation volume was adjusted to keep intracranial pressure (ICP) at 30–40 cmH2O. ARDS was induced by oleic acid infusion. Respiratory function, hemodynamics, extravascular lung water index (ELWI), lung and brain computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as inflammatory mediators, S100B, and neuronal serum enolase (NSE) were measured over a 4-h period. Lung and brain tissue were collected and examined at the end of the experiment.
In both healthy and injured lungs, AICH caused increases in NSE and TNF-alpha plasma concentrations, extravascular lung water, and lung density in CT, the extent of poorly aerated (dystelectatic) and atelectatic lung regions, and an increase in the brain tissue water content. ARDS and AICH in combination induced damage in the hippocampus and decreased density in brain CT.
AICH induces lung injury and also exacerbates pre-existing damage. Increased extravascular lung water is an early marker. ARDS has a detrimental effect on the brain and acts synergistically with intracranial hypertension to cause histological hippocampal damage.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-011-2232-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
ABI; ARDS; ELWI; CT scan; Organ dysfunction
We report a young woman with sudden and severe retroorbital headache, neck pain, and a large sellar mass extending to the suprasellar cistern. A presumptive diagnosis of non-secreting pituitary macroadenoma undergoing apoplexy was made and transphenoidal surgery performed. Histopathology revealed mononuclear infiltration and marked non-hemorrhagic necrosis of the anterior pituitary consistent with a diagnosis of necrotizing infundibulo-hypophysitis. The possible pathogenesis of this rare variant of hypophysitis is discussed.
Hypophysitis; Necrosis; Pituitary infarction
Impaired suppressive capacity of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) from peripheral blood of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been reported by multiple laboratories. It is, however, currently unresolved whether Treg dysfunction in MS patients is limited to reduced control of peripheral T cell activation since most studies analyzed peripheral blood samples only. Here, we assessed early active MS lesions in brain biopsies obtained from 16 patients with MS by FOXP3 immunohistochemistry. In addition, we used six-color flow cytometry to determine numbers of Treg by analysis of FOXP3/CD127 expression in peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 17 treatment-naïve MS patients as well as quantities of apoptosis sensitive CD45ROhiCD95hi cells in circulating and CSF Treg subsets. Absolute numbers of FOXP3+ and CD4+ cells were rather low in MS brain lesions and Treg were not detectable in 30% of MS biopsies despite the presence of CD4+ cell infiltrates. In contrast, Treg were detectable in all CSF samples and Treg with a CD45ROhiCD95hi phenotype previously shown to be highly apoptosis sensitive were found to be enriched in the CSF compared to peripheral blood of MS patients. We suggest a hypothetical model of intracerebral elimination of Treg by CD95L-mediated apoptosis within the MS lesion.
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. To date, considerable evidence has associated Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection with disease development. However, it remains controversial whether EBV infects multiple sclerosis brain and contributes directly to CNS immunopathology. To assess whether EBV infection is a characteristic feature of multiple sclerosis brain, a large cohort of multiple sclerosis specimens containing white matter lesions (nine adult and three paediatric cases) with a heterogeneous B cell infiltrate and a second cohort of multiple sclerosis specimens (12 cases) that included B cell infiltration within the meninges and parenchymal B cell aggregates, were examined for EBV infection using multiple methodologies including in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and two independent real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodologies that detect genomic EBV or the abundant EBV encoded RNA (EBER) 1, respectively. We report that EBV could not be detected in any of the multiple sclerosis specimens containing white matter lesions by any of the methods employed, yet EBV was readily detectable in multiple Epstein–Barr virus-positive control tissues including several CNS lymphomas. Furthermore, EBV was not detected in our second cohort of multiple sclerosis specimens by in situ hybridization. However, our real-time PCR methodologies, which were capable of detecting very few EBV infected cells, detected EBV at low levels in only 2 of the 12 multiple sclerosis meningeal specimens examined. Our finding that CNS EBV infection was rare in multiple sclerosis brain indicates that EBV infection is unlikely to contribute directly to multiple sclerosis brain pathology in the vast majority of cases.
B cells; Epstein–Barr virus; multiple sclerosis brain
The following review summarizes the progress in multiple sclerosis research published in the Journal of Neurology in 2009.
Multiple sclerosis; Neuromyelitis optica; Advances
Lassa virus (LASV), the causative agent of Lassa fever (LF), is endemic in West Africa, accounting for substantial morbidity and mortality. In spite of ongoing research efforts, LF pathogenesis and mechanisms of LASV immune control remain poorly understood. While normal laboratory mice are resistant to LASV, we report that mice expressing humanized instead of murine MHC class I (MHC-I) failed to control LASV infection and develop severe LF. Infection of MHC-I knockout mice confirmed a key role for MHC-I-restricted T cell responses in controlling LASV. Intriguingly we found that T cell depletion in LASV-infected HHD mice prevented disease, irrespective of high-level viremia. Widespread activation of monocyte/macrophage lineage cells, manifest through inducible NO synthase expression, and elevated IL-12p40 serum levels indicated a systemic inflammatory condition. The absence of extensive monocyte/macrophage activation in T cell-depleted mice suggested that T cell responses contribute to deleterious innate inflammatory reactions and LF pathogenesis. Our observations in mice indicate a dual role for T cells, not only protecting from LASV, but also enhancing LF pathogenesis. The possibility of T cell-driven enhancement and immunopathogenesis should be given consideration in future LF vaccine development.
Lassa virus (LASV) is the causative agent of Lassa fever (LF), accounting for substantial morbidity and mortality in West Africa. Yet the mechanisms leading to disease remain poorly understood. Here we propose a concept whereby the body's immune defense either defeats LASV rapidly or, if unsuccessful, becomes an essential facilitator of disease. This latter paradoxical postulate stems from observations in genetically engineered (HHD) mice, which we found to be susceptible to LF. HHD mice differ from resistant wild type mice in that they have a humanized repertoire of T cells, a main component of the mammalian immune system. Counterintuitively, we could protect HHD mice against LF by experimentally removing their T cells. We further found that LF correlated with widespread activation of macrophages, which again depended on T cells. Similar to T cells, macrophages are important players in our body's defense system, but their inflammatory products are also candidate mediators of LF. Taken together, these findings suggest that LF may represent an inappropriate host response to infection. Specifically, our study demonstrates a two-faced role of T cell responses against LASV. Such detrimental aspects of immune defense need to be given consideration in future LF vaccine development, to avoid enhancement of disease in vaccinated individuals.
Multiple sclerosis is the most frequent demyelinating disease in adults. It is characterized by demyelination, inflammation, gliosis and a variable loss of axons. Clinically and histologically, it shares features with other demyelinating and/or inflammatory CNS diseases. Diagnosis of an inflammatory demyelinating disease can be challenging, especially in small biopsy specimens. Here, we summarize the histological hallmarks and most important neuropathological differential diagnoses of early MS, and provide practical guidelines for the diagnosis of inflammatory demyelinating diseases.
Multiple sclerosis; Demyelination; Inflammation
Tregs are important mediators of immune tolerance to self antigens, and it has been suggested that Treg inactivation may cause autoimmune disease. Therefore, immunotherapy approaches that aim to restore or expand autoantigen-specific Treg activity might be beneficial for the treatment of autoimmune disease. Here we report that Treg-mediated suppression of autoimmune disease can be achieved in vivo by taking advantage of the ability of the liver to promote immune tolerance. Expression of the neural autoantigen myelin basic protein (MBP) in the liver was accomplished stably in liver-specific MBP transgenic mice and transiently using gene transfer to liver cells in vivo. Such ectopic MBP expression induced protection from autoimmune neuroinflammation in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Protection from autoimmunity was mediated by MBP-specific CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs, as demonstrated by the ability of these cells to prevent disease when adoptively transferred into nontransgenic mice and to suppress conventional CD4+CD25– T cell proliferation after antigen-specific stimulation with MBP in vitro. The generation of MBP-specific CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs in vivo depended on expression of MBP in the liver, but not in skin, and occurred by TGF-β–dependent peripheral conversion from conventional non-Tregs. Our findings indicate that autoantigen expression in the liver may generate autoantigen-specific Tregs. Thus, targeting of autoantigens to hepatocytes may be a novel approach to prevention or treatment of autoimmune diseases.
The course of autoimmune inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) can be influenced by infections. Here we assessed the disease-modulating effects of the most frequent respiratory pathogen Streptococcus pneumonia on the course of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Mice were immunized with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 (MOG35-55) peptide, challenged intraperitoneally with live S. pneumoniae type 3, and then treated with ceftriaxone. EAE was monitored by a clinical score for 35 days after immunization. EAE was unaltered in mice infected with S. pneumoniae 2 days before and 21 days after the first MOG35-55 injection but was more severe in animals infected 7 days after the first MOG35-55 injection. The antigen-driven systemic T-cell response was unaltered, and the intraspinal Th1 cytokine mRNA concentrations at the peak of disease were unchanged. The composition of CNS-infiltrating cells and subsequent tissue destruction were only slightly increased after S. pneumoniae infection. In contrast, the serum levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6 and spinal interleukin-6 levels were elevated, and the expression of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules, CD80, and CD86 on splenic dendritic cells were enhanced early after infection. Serum cytokine concentrations were not elevated, and EAE was not aggravated by S. pneumoniae infection in Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2)-deficient mice. In conclusion, infection with S. pneumoniae worsens EAE probably by elevation of proinflammatory cytokines and activation of dendritic cells in the systemic circulation via TLR2 and cross talk through the blood-brain barrier.
Inflammatory diseases of the CNS, such as MS and its animal model EAE, are characterized by infiltration of activated lymphocytes and phagocytes into the CNS. Within the CNS, activation of resident cells initiates an inflammatory cascade, leading to tissue destruction, demyelination, and neurologic deficit. TLRs recognize microbes and are pivotal mediators of innate immunity. Within the CNS, augmented TLR expression during EAE is observed, even in the absence of any apparent microbial involvement. To determine the functional relevance of this phenomenon during sterile autoimmunity, we studied the role of different TLRs as well as their common signaling adaptor MyD88 in the development of EAE. We found that MyD88–/– mice were completely EAE resistant. Surprisingly, this protection is partly due to engagement of the CpG receptor TLR9. Restricting the MyD88 or TLR9 mutation to host radio-resistant cells, including the cells within the CNS, revealed that engagement of radio-resistant cells modulated the disease course and histopathological changes. Our data clearly demonstrate that both TLR9 and MyD88 are essential modulators of the autoimmune process during the effector phase of disease and suggest that endogenous “danger signals” modulate the disease pathogenesis.
In multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) leads to damage of axons and myelin. Early during the clinical course, patients can compensate this damage, but little is known about the changes that underlie this improvement of neurological function. To study axonal changes that may contribute to recovery, we made use of an animal model of MS, which allows us to target inflammatory lesions to the corticospinal tract (CST), a major descending motor pathway. We demonstrate that axons remodel at multiple levels in response to a single neuroinflammatory lesion as follows: (a) surrounding the lesion, local interneurons show regenerative sprouting; (b) above the lesion, descending CST axons extend new collaterals that establish a “detour” circuit to the lumbar target area, whereas below the lesion, spared CST axons increase their terminal branching; and (c) in the motor cortex, the distribution of projection neurons is remodeled, and new neurons are recruited to the cortical motor pool. Behavioral tests directly show the importance of these changes for recovery. This paper provides evidence for a highly plastic response of the motor system to a single neuroinflammatory lesion. This framework will help to understand the endogenous repair capacity of the CNS and to develop therapeutic strategies to support it.
demyelinating autoimmune disease; spinal cord; pyramidal tracts; axons; nerve regeneration
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and TNF-β are key mediators in bacterial inflammation. We therefore examined the role of TNF-α and its two receptors in murine pneumococcal central nervous system infection. TNF-α knockout mice and age- and sex-matched controls and TNF receptor (p55 and p75)-deficient mice and heterozygous littermates were infected intracerebrally with a Streptococcus pneumoniae type 3 strain. Mice were monitored until death or were killed 36 h after infection. Bacterial titers in blood, spleen, and brain homogenates were determined. Leukocyte infiltration and neuronal damage were assessed by histological scores. TNF-α-deficient mice died earlier than the controls after intracerebral infection although overall survival was similar. TNF-α deficiency did not inhibit leukocyte recruitment into the subarachnoid space and did not lead to an increased density of bacteria in brain homogenates. However, it caused a substantial rise of the concentration of S. pneumoniae cells in blood and spleen. Spleen bacterial titers were also increased in p55- and p75-deficient mice. TNF receptor-deficient mice showed decreased meningeal inflammation. Neuronal damage was not affected by either TNF-α or TNF receptor deficiency. In a murine model of pneumococcal peritonitis, 102 CFU of S. pneumoniae produced fatal peritonitis in TNF-α-deficient, but not wild-type, mice. Early leukocyte influx into the peritoneum was impaired in TNF-α-deficient mice. The lack of TNF-α or its receptors renders mice more susceptible to S. pneumoniae infections.