Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-24 (24)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
1.  Neuroprotective intervention by interferon-γ blockade prevents CD8+ T cell–mediated dendrite and synapse loss 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(10):2087-2103.
IFN-γ produced by CD8+ cytotoxic T cells acts on neurons to induce Stat1-associated loss of dendrites and synapses in a mouse model of viral encephalitis.
Neurons are postmitotic and thus irreplaceable cells of the central nervous system (CNS). Accordingly, CNS inflammation with resulting neuronal damage can have devastating consequences. We investigated molecular mediators and structural consequences of CD8+ T lymphocyte (CTL) attack on neurons in vivo. In a viral encephalitis model in mice, disease depended on CTL-derived interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and neuronal IFN-γ signaling. Downstream STAT1 phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in neurons were associated with dendrite and synapse loss (deafferentation). Analogous molecular and structural alterations were also found in human Rasmussen encephalitis, a CTL-mediated human autoimmune disorder of the CNS. Importantly, therapeutic intervention by IFN-γ blocking antibody prevented neuronal deafferentation and clinical disease without reducing CTL responses or CNS infiltration. These findings identify neuronal IFN-γ signaling as a novel target for neuroprotective interventions in CTL-mediated CNS disease.
PMCID: PMC3782053  PMID: 23999498
2.  Limited TCF7L2 Expression in MS Lesions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72822.
Multiple sclerosis is the most frequent demyelinating disease in the human CNS characterized by inflammation, demyelination, relative axonal loss and gliosis. Remyelination occurs, but is frequently absent or restricted to a small remyelinated rim at the lesion border. Impaired differentiation of oligodendroglial precursor cells is one factor contributing to limited remyelination, especially in chronic MS. TCF7L2 is an oligodendroglial transcription factor regulating myelin gene expression during developmental myelination as well as remyelination. TCF7L2 binds to co-effectors such as β-catenin or histone deacetylases and thereby activates or inhibits the transcription of downstream genes involved in oligodendroglial differentiation. To determine whether TCF7L2 can be used as a marker for differentiating or myelinating oligodendrocytes, we analyzed the expression patterns of TCF7L2 during myelination and remyelination in human and murine CNS tissue samples. Here, we demonstrate that marked expression of TCF7L2 in oligodendrocytes is restricted to a well defined time period during developmental myelination in human and mouse CNS tissue samples. In demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, TCF7L2 is reexpressed in oligodendrocytes in a subset of MS patients, but is also present in tissue samples from patients with non-demyelinating, inflammatory diseases. Furthermore, TCF7L2 expression was also detected in astrocytes. HDAC2, a potential binding partner of TCF7L2 that promotes oligodendroglial differentiation and myelination, is expressed in the majority of oligodendrocytes in controls and MS tissue samples. In summary, our data demonstrate that the expression of TCF7L2 in oligodendrocytes is limited to a certain differentiation stage; however the expression of TCF7L2 is neither restricted to the oligodendroglial lineage nor to (re-)myelinating conditions.
PMCID: PMC3748032  PMID: 23977356
3.  Bacterial Cytolysin during Meningitis Disrupts the Regulation of Glutamate in the Brain, Leading to Synaptic Damage 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(6):e1003380.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) meningitis is a common bacterial infection of the brain. The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin represents a key factor, determining the neuropathogenic potential of the pneumococci. Here, we demonstrate selective synaptic loss within the superficial layers of the frontal neocortex of post-mortem brain samples from individuals with pneumococcal meningitis. A similar effect was observed in mice with pneumococcal meningitis only when the bacteria expressed the pore-forming cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin. Exposure of acute mouse brain slices to only pore-competent pneumolysin at disease-relevant, non-lytic concentrations caused permanent dendritic swelling, dendritic spine elimination and synaptic loss. The NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists MK801 and D-AP5 reduced this pathology. Pneumolysin increased glutamate levels within the mouse brain slices. In mouse astrocytes, pneumolysin initiated the release of glutamate in a calcium-dependent manner. We propose that pneumolysin plays a significant synapto- and dendritotoxic role in pneumococcal meningitis by initiating glutamate release from astrocytes, leading to subsequent glutamate-dependent synaptic damage. We outline for the first time the occurrence of synaptic pathology in pneumococcal meningitis and demonstrate that a bacterial cytolysin can dysregulate the control of glutamate in the brain, inducing excitotoxic damage.
Author Summary
Bacterial meningitis is one of the most devastating brain diseases. Among the bacteria that cause meningitis, Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common. Meningitis predominantly affects children, especially in the Third World, and most of them do not survive. Those that do survive often suffer permanent brain damage and hearing problems. The exact morphological substrates of brain damage in Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis remain largely unknown. In our experiments, we found that the brain cortex of patients with meningitis demonstrated a loss of synapses (the contact points among neurons, responsible for the processes of learning and memory), and we identified the major pneumococcal neurotoxin pneumolysin as a sufficient cause of this loss. The effect was not direct but was mediated by the brain neurotransmitter glutamate, which was released upon toxin binding by one of the non-neuronal cell types of the brain – the astrocytes. Pneumolysin initiated calcium influx in astrocytes and subsequent glutamate release. Glutamate damaged the synapses via NMDA-receptors – a mechanism similar to the damage occurring in brain ischemia. Thus, we show that synaptic loss is present in pneumococcal meningitis, and we identify the toxic bacterial protein pneumolysin as the major factor in this process. These findings alter our understanding of bacterial meningitis and establish new therapeutic strategies for this fatal disease.
PMCID: PMC3681734  PMID: 23785278
4.  Microglial nodules in early multiple sclerosis white matter are associated with degenerating axons 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;125(4):595-608.
Microglial nodules in the normal-appearing white matter have been suggested as the earliest stage(s) of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesion formation. Such nodules are characterized by an absence of leukocyte infiltration, astrogliosis or demyelination, and may develop into active demyelinating MS lesions. Although the etiology of MS is still not known, inflammation and autoimmunity are considered to be the central components of this disease. Previous studies provide evidence that Wallerian degeneration, occurring as a consequence of structural damage in MS lesions, might be responsible for observed pathological abnormalities in connected normal-appearing white matter. As innate immune cells, microglia/macrophages are the first to react to even minor pathological changes in the CNS. Biopsy tissue from 27 MS patients and autopsy and biopsy tissue from 22 normal and pathological controls were analyzed to determine the incidence of microglial nodules. We assessed MS periplaque white matter tissue from early disease stages to determine whether microglial nodules are associated with altered axons. With immunohistochemical methods, the spatial relation of the two phenomena was visualized using HLA-DR antibody for MHC II expression by activated microglia/macrophages and by applying antibodies against damaged axons, i.e., SMI32 (non-phosphorylated neurofilaments) and amyloid precursor protein as well as neuropeptide Y receptor Y1, which marks axons undergoing Wallerian degeneration. Our data demonstrate that the occurrence of microglial nodules is not specific to MS and is associated with degenerating as well as damaged axons in early MS. In addition, we show that early MS microglial nodules exhibit both pro- and antiinflammatory phenotypes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1082-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3611040  PMID: 23354834
Wallerian degeneration; Microglial nodules; Multiple sclerosis; Preactive lesions; Axonal damage; Microglia activation
5.  Reduced astrocytic NF-κB activation by laquinimod protects from cuprizone-induced demyelination 
Acta Neuropathologica  2012;124(3):411-424.
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.
PMCID: PMC3422618  PMID: 22766690
Demyelination; Laquinimod; Cuprizone; Astrocytes; NF-κB; Multiple sclerosis
6.  Inflammatory Cortical Demyelination in Early Multiple Sclerosis 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2011;365(23):2188-2197.
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.)
PMCID: PMC3282172  PMID: 22150037
7.  Related B cell clones that populate the CSF and CNS of patients with multiple sclerosis produce CSF immunoglobulin 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2011;233(1-2):245-248.
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.
PMCID: PMC3090654  PMID: 21353315
multiple sclerosis; B cells; cerebrospinal fluid; central nervous system; oligoclonal bands
8.  IκB kinase 2 determines oligodendrocyte loss by non-cell-autonomous activation of NF-κB in the central nervous system 
Brain  2011;134(4):1184-1198.
The IκB kinase complex induces nuclear factor kappa B activation and has recently been recognized as a key player of autoimmunity in the central nervous system. Notably, IκB kinase/nuclear factor kappa B signalling regulates peripheral myelin formation by Schwann cells, however, its role in myelin formation in the central nervous system during health and disease is largely unknown. Surprisingly, we found that brain-specific IκB kinase 2 expression is dispensable for proper myelin assembly and repair in the central nervous system, but instead plays a fundamental role for the loss of myelin in the cuprizone model. During toxic demyelination, inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B activation by conditional ablation of IκB kinase 2 resulted in strong preservation of central nervous system myelin, reduced expression of proinflammatory mediators and a significantly attenuated glial response. Importantly, IκB kinase 2 depletion in astrocytes, but not in oligodendrocytes, was sufficient to protect mice from myelin loss. Our results reveal a crucial role of glial cell-specific IκB kinase 2/nuclear factor kappa B signalling for oligodendrocyte damage during toxic demyelination. Thus, therapies targeting IκB kinase 2 function in non-neuronal cells may represent a promising strategy for the treatment of distinct demyelinating central nervous system diseases.
PMCID: PMC4055835  PMID: 21310728
oligodendrocyte; demyelination; remyelination; NF-κB; glia; cuprizone; multiple sclerosis
9.  Effects of pulmonary acid aspiration on the lungs and extra-pulmonary organs: a randomized study in pigs 
Critical Care  2012;16(2):R35.
There is mounting evidence that injury to one organ causes indirect damage to other organ systems with increased morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of acid aspiration pneumonitis (AAP) on extrapulmonary organs and to test the hypothesis that these could be due to circulatory depression or hypoxemia.
Mechanically ventilated anesthetized pigs were randomized to receive intrabronchial instillation of hydrochloric acid (n = 7) or no treatment (n = 7). Hydrochloric acid (0.1 N, pH 1.1, 2.5 ml/kg BW) was instilled into the lungs during the inspiratory phase of ventilation. Hemodynamics, respiratory function and computer tomography (CT) scans of lung and brain were followed over a four-hour period. Tissue samples of lung, heart, liver, kidney and hippocampus were collected at the end of the experiment.
Acid instillation caused pulmonary edema, measured as increased extravascular lung water index (ELWI), impaired gas exchange and increased mean pulmonary artery pressure. Gas exchange tended to improve during the course of the study, despite increasing ELWI. In AAP animals compared to controls we found: a) cardiac leukocyte infiltration and necrosis in the conduction system and myocardium; b) lymphocyte infiltration in the liver, spreading from the periportal zone with prominent areas of necrosis; c) renal inflammation with lymphocyte infiltration, edema and necrosis in the proximal and distal tubules; and d) a tendency towards more severe hippocampal damage (P > 0.05).
Acid aspiration pneumonitis induces extrapulmonary organ injury. Circulatory depression and hypoxemia are unlikely causative factors. ELWI is a sensitive bedside parameter of early lung damage.
PMCID: PMC3681347  PMID: 22380702
10.  Pathology of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in multiple sclerosis with natalizumab-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy 
Acta Neuropathologica  2011;123(2):235-245.
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.
PMCID: PMC3259335  PMID: 22057786
IRIS; Natalizumab; PML; MS; Pathology; MRI
11.  Acute effects of intracranial hypertension and ARDS on pulmonary and neuronal damage: a randomized experimental study in pigs 
Intensive Care Medicine  2011;37(7):1182-1191.
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.
PMCID: PMC3127009  PMID: 21544692
ABI; ARDS; ELWI; CT scan; Organ dysfunction
12.  Necrotizing infundibulo-hypophysitis: an entity too rare to be true? 
Pituitary  2011;15(2):202-208.
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.
PMCID: PMC3358537  PMID: 21479815
Hypophysitis; Necrosis; Pituitary infarction
13.  Intracerebral Human Regulatory T Cells: Analysis of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ T Cells in Brain Lesions and Cerebrospinal Fluid of Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17988.
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.
PMCID: PMC3060879  PMID: 21437244
14.  Epstein–Barr virus infection is not a characteristic feature of multiple sclerosis brain 
Brain  2009;132(12):3318-3328.
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.
PMCID: PMC2792367  PMID: 19638446
B cells; Epstein–Barr virus; multiple sclerosis brain
15.  Advances in multiple sclerosis research in 2009 
Journal of Neurology  2010;257(9):1590-1593.
The following review summarizes the progress in multiple sclerosis research published in the Journal of Neurology in 2009.
PMCID: PMC2927735  PMID: 20689961
Multiple sclerosis; Neuromyelitis optica; Advances
16.  Primary angiitis of the CNS with pure spinal cord involvement: a case report 
Journal of Neurology  2010;257(10):1762-1764.
PMCID: PMC3128742  PMID: 20559846
17.  T Cell-Dependence of Lassa Fever Pathogenesis 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000836.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC2847900  PMID: 20360949
18.  Diagnosis of inflammatory demyelination in biopsy specimens: a practical approach 
Acta Neuropathologica  2008;115(3):275-287.
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.
PMCID: PMC2668559  PMID: 18175128
Multiple sclerosis; Demyelination; Inflammation
19.  Ectopic expression of neural autoantigen in mouse liver suppresses experimental autoimmune neuroinflammation by inducing antigen-specific Tregs 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(10):3403-3410.
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.
PMCID: PMC2542846  PMID: 18802476
20.  Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection Aggravates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis via Toll-Like Receptor 2  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(8):4841-4848.
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.
PMCID: PMC1539614  PMID: 16861672
21.  Innate immunity mediated by TLR9 modulates pathogenicity in an animal model of multiple sclerosis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(2):456-464.
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.
PMCID: PMC1350999  PMID: 16440059
22.  Remodeling of Axonal Connections Contributes to Recovery in an Animal Model of Multiple Sclerosis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2004;200(8):1027-1038.
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.
PMCID: PMC2211840  PMID: 15492125
demyelinating autoimmune disease; spinal cord; pyramidal tracts; axons; nerve regeneration
23.  Effect of Deficiency of Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha or Both of Its Receptors on Streptococcus pneumoniae Central Nervous System Infection and Peritonitis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(11):6881-6886.
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.
PMCID: PMC100067  PMID: 11598062
24.  Human Glioma–Initiating Cells Show a Distinct Immature Phenotype Resembling but Not Identical to NG2 Glia 
Supplemental digital content is available in the text.
Glioma-initiating cells (GICs) represent a potential important therapeutic target because they are likely to account for the frequent recurrence of malignant gliomas; however, their identity remains unsolved. Here, we characterized the cellular lineage fingerprint of GICs through a combination of electrophysiology, lineage marker expression, and differentiation assays of 5 human patient-derived primary GIC lines. Most GICs coexpressed nestin, NG2 proteoglycan, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α, and glial fibrillary acidic protein. Glioma-initiating cells could be partially differentiated into astrocytic but not oligodendroglial or neural lineages. We also demonstrate that GICs have a characteristic electrophysiologic profile distinct from that of well-characterized tumor bulk cells. Together, our results suggest that GICs represent a unique type of cells reminiscent of an immature phenotype that closely resembles but is not identical to NG2 glia with respect to marker expression and functional membrane properties.
PMCID: PMC3678885  PMID: 23481707
Glioblastoma; Glioma-initiating cells; Nestin; NG2; Patch clamp

Results 1-24 (24)