Publication date: Oct 05, 2019
T helper cells bearing the CXCR6 surface marker drive multiple sclerosis by producing a host of proteins that damage nerve fibers, by attacking their protective myelin sheath.
It’s driven by “helper” T cells, white blood cells that mount an inflammatory attack on the brain and spinal cord, degrading the protective myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers.
Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have now pinpointed the specific helper T cells that cause MS, as well as a protein on their surface that marks them.
If human studies bear out the findings, targeting these rogue T cells could potentially ameliorate MS, says senior investigator Eileen Remold-O’Donnell, PhD, of the hospital’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
These cells, they showed, are highly damaging to nerve fibers, producing one set of proteins that directly damage cells and others, including GM-CSF, that stimulate an inflammatory attack by other immune cells known as macrophages.
When they deleted the Sb1 gene in T cells in their mouse model, fewer immune cells survived to infiltrate the spinal cord.
T helper cells bearing the CXCR6 marker drive multiple sclerosis by producing proteins that damage nerve fibers by attacking their protective myelin sheath.
Credit: Lifei Hou/Boston Children’s Hospital Targeting CXCR6 in multiple sclerosis Remold-O’Donnell and Hou, first author on the paper, believe treatments to deplete CXCR6+ cells could mitigate MS and possibly other autoimmune disorders while largely leaving other T cell immune defenses intact.