Research ArticleMultiple Sclerosis

Functional inflammatory profiles distinguish myelin-reactive T cells from patients with multiple sclerosis

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Science Translational Medicine  13 May 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 287, pp. 287ra74
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa8038


Myelin-reactive T cells have been identified in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy subjects with comparable frequencies, but the contribution of these autoreactive T cells to disease pathology remains unknown. A total of 13,324 T cell libraries generated from blood of 23 patients and 22 healthy controls were interrogated for reactivity to myelin antigens. Libraries derived from CCR6+ myelin-reactive T cells from patients with MS exhibited significantly enhanced production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-17 (IL-17), and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) compared to healthy controls. Single-cell clones isolated by major histocompatibility complex/peptide tetramers from CCR6+ T cell libraries also secreted more proinflammatory cytokines, whereas clones isolated from controls secreted more IL-10. The transcriptomes of myelin-specific CCR6+ T cells from patients with MS were distinct from those derived from healthy controls and, notably, were enriched in T helper cell 17 (TH17)–induced experimental autoimmune encephalitis gene signatures, and gene signatures derived from TH17 cells isolated other human autoimmune diseases. These data, although not causal, imply that functional differences between antigen-specific T cells from MS and healthy controls are fundamental to disease development and support the notion that IL-10 production from myelin-reactive T cells may act to limit disease progression or even pathogenesis.

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