T cells targeting neuromyelitis optica autoantigen aquaporin-4 cause paralysis and visual system injury

Andrés Cruz-Herranz, Sharon A. Sagan, Raymond A. Sobel, Ari J. Green, Scott S. Zamvil

Department of Neurology and Program in Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. Department of Pathology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

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Aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-specific antibodies are instrumental in promoting central nervous system (CNS) tissue injury in neuromyelitis optica (NMO), yet evidence indicates that AQP4-specific T cells also have a pivotal role in NMO pathogenesis. Although considerable effort has been devoted to creation of animal models to study how AQP4-specific T cells and antibodies may cooperate in development of both clinical and histologic opticospinal inflammatory disease, the initial attempts were unsuccessful.  Recently, it was discovered that T cells from AQP4-deficient (AQP4-/-) mice recognize distinct AQP4 epitopes that were not identified previously in wild-type (WT) mice, and that donor Th17 cells from AQP4-/- mice that target those novel epitopes could cause paralysis and visual system injury associated with opticospinal inflammation in WT recipient mice. These observations indicate that the pathogenic AQP4-specific T cell repertoire is normally controlled by negative selection. Here, we describe the advances leading to development of an animal model for aquaporin-targeted CNS autoimmunity (ATCA). This new model provides a foundation to investigate immune mechanisms that may participate in NMO pathogenesis. It should also permit preclinical testing of agents considered for treatment of NMO. Journal of Nature and Science (JNSCI), 3(5):e358, 2017

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