IMMUNOLOGY: Letting Killers Through

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Science  14 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5537, pp. 1955c
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5537.1955c

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated demyelinating disease affecting nerves of the central nervous system (CNS). Animal models of MS have illuminated how helper-type CD4+ T cells could influence the human form of the disease. Because CD8+ killer T cells are involved in cell-mediated autoimmunity and can be detected in the lesions of some MS patients, it is possible that they too might contribute to the pathology observed in MS.

To test this, Huseby et al. generated CD8+ cytotoxic T cell clones from mice immunized with a protein component of nerve myelin sheath. Transferring these cells into normal mice caused loss of coordination, spastic reflexes, and paralysis. The CNS lesions responsible for these effects were generally restricted to small blood vessels of the brain and proximal regions of white matter, a pathology that is distinct from other forms of CD4-mediated demyelinating disease. This type of perivascular lesion in the upper CNS suggests that CD8+ T cells might induce distinct forms of MS or mediate particular stages of the disease. — SJS

J. Exp. Med. 194, 669 (2001).

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