Early activation of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes by myelin basic protein in subjects with MS
BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system. In this study, whole blood samples were analyzed for activation capacity and the activatability of CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes by human total myelin basic protein (MBP), human MBP 104-118 fragment, and guinea pig MBP 68-82 fragment. ... METHODS: Whole blood samples from healthy human subjects were compared with samples from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). In particular, the expression of CD69, a surface marker of T-lymphocyte activity, was measured via flow cytometry before and after 14h of incubation with human total MBP, MBP 104-118 fragment and/or guinea pig MBP 68-82 fragment. The results were compared between 15 patients with MS and 15 healthy subjects. RESULTS: In response to all three MBP forms, CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes from patients with MS demonstrated greater activatability than those from healthy subjects. These results indicate that in patients with MS, latent pre-activation to MBP epitopes results in an increased activation capacity of T-lymphocytes. CONCLUSION: This effect may occur because immunization against MBP (at least in a subset of patients) plays a pathophysiological role in MS pathogenesis. Alternatively, this result may represent a non-specific, bystander autoimmune phenomenon.