CD4+ T cell responses to myelin autoantigens: activation, memory and tolerance
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a CD4+ T cell mediated autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and shares many characteristics with multiple sclerosis (MS). Induction of EAE is mediated by myelin reactive CD4+ T helper (Th) cells, particularly Th1 and Th17 cells, which can be provoked by the immunization with myelin derived protein (or peptide) and Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulus (eg, complete Freund¡s adjuvant, CFA). If given an injection of soluble peptide before immunization, mice do not develop EAE (they are tolerant). This approach has been widely applied, evoking tolerance in primary responses (i.e., in naive T cells). Therefore the first hypothesis of this thesis is that peptide induced protection from EAE is a result from T cell deletion or / and anergy. As MS patients have ongoing disease and over 85% of MS patients develop a relapsing-remitting course, memory T cells are key targets when considering peptide-induced tolerance as a therapeutic strategy. Thus, a model for ¡memory EAE¡ was established to test a second hypothesis that the myelin reactive memory T cells can be controlled by the administration of soluble peptide. Here, adoptive transfer of T cells from T cell receptor transgenic mice (2D2) recognizing myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 (pMOG) was used to investigate the pMOG-reactive memory responses. Soluble pMOG administration could induce a transient expansion of 2D2 T cells followed by their loss through apoptosis. A model using double immunization was established by immunizing mice first with pMOG together with unmethylated CpG oligonucleotide (CpG) as an adjuvant, and subsequently immunizing with pMOG in CFA. This produced EAE with early onset and high incidence compared to mice which received pMOG/CFA only. Cells from mice that received the double immunization protocol produced high levels of IFN-γ, suggesting that memory T cell responses have been triggered in the mice. Administration of soluble peptide before secondary immunization could ameliorate EAE, indicating that memory T cells are susceptible to tolerance induction. pMOG-reactive memory T cells were further assessed by isolating CD4+ CD25- CD44high CD62Llow cells from pMOG-experienced 2D2 mice. These cells showed early and high production of IFN-γ, and early but transient production of IL-2, compared with naive population. These data provide basic information relevant to translating peptide-induced T cell tolerance from mice to humans.