More MS news articles for February 2001

A gene therapy approach for treating T-cell-mediated autoimmune diseases

Blood, 15 February 2001, Vol. 97, No. 4, pp. 886-894

Chiann-Chyi Chen, Amariliz Rivera, Naomi Ron, Joseph P. Dougherty, and Yacov Ron
From the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ; and the Graduate Program in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ.

Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that serves as a model for multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans. In mice, EAE is mediated by Th1 type CD4+ T cells specific for various myelin proteins which migrate from the periphery to the CNS. Removal or blocking of CD4+ cells before or shortly after disease induction was shown to prevent disease onset and/or disease progression but also results in general immune suppression. Most treatment regimens for autoimmune diseases currently rely on general suppression of the T-cell compartment most commonly by steroids. In this paper, an experimental, gene therapy-based model is presented in which susceptible mice are made resistant to EAE induction by specifically down-regulating an autoreactive T-cell population. By using a retroviral gene transfer protocol, normal B cells were genetically modified to constitutively express the SJL-specific proteolipid (PLP) encephalitogenic determinant and then adoptively transferred into syngeneic hosts. To ensure appropriate presentation of the exogenous encephalitogenic peptide in association with MHC class II, the encephalitogenic sequence was fused to a lysosomal targeting sequence. Adoptive transfer of syngeneic B cells expressing the PLP encephalitogenic determinant into normal, naive, genetically susceptible mice induced PLP-specific unresponsiveness and completely protected the majority (62% and 83% using an intermediate and a high titer retroviral vector, respectively) of the animals from EAE induction. The remaining animals had a delayed disease onset and/or lower disease severity. All protected mice expressed the exogenous gene in the spleen as detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.

© 2001 by The American Society of Hematology.