J Immunol. 2004 Mar 1;172(5):2878-84
Bischof F, Hofmann M, Schumacher TN, Vyth-Dreese FA, Weissert R, Schild H, Kruisbeek AM, Melms A.
Department of Neurology and Institute for Cell Biology, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany.
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis, is primarily mediated by CD4 T cells specific for Ags in the CNS.
Using MHC class II tetramers, we assessed expansion and phenotypic differentiation of polyclonal self-reactive CD4 T cells during EAE after primary and secondary challenge with the specific Ag.
After EAE induction in SJL mice with proteolipid protein 139-151, CNS-specific T cells up-regulated activation markers and expanded in the draining lymph nodes and in the spleen.
Less than 20% of total autoreactive T cells entered the CNS simultaneously with Th cells of other specificities.
Almost all tetramer-positive cells in the CNS were activated and phenotypically distinct from the large peripheral pool.
When EAE was induced in Ag-experienced mice, disease symptoms developed earlier and persisted longer; autoreactive T cells were more rapidly activated and invaded the CNS earlier.
In striking contrast to specific CTLs that respond after secondary viral challenge, the absolute numbers of autoreactive CD4 T cells were not increased, indicating that the accelerated autoreactivity in Ag-experienced mice is not related to higher frequencies of autoreactive CD4 T cells.