In studies using genetically deficient mice, a role for the lymphotoxin (LT) system in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) has remained controversial. Here, we have reassessed this conclusion by using a fusion protein decoy that blocks the LT pathway in vivo without evoking the developmental defects inherent in LT-deficient mice. We have found that inhibition of the LT pathway prevented disease in two models of EAE that do not rely on the administration of pertussis toxin. Surprisingly, disease attenuation was due to specific blockade of LTαβ binding rather than the binding of LIGHT to its receptors. In a third system that requires pertussis toxin, LT inhibition did not affect disease, as was observed when the same model was used with LT-deficient mice. Disease prevention in pertussis toxin–free models was associated with defects in T cell responses and migration. When the DO11.10 T cell transgenic system was used, inhibition of the LT pathway was shown to uncouple T cell priming from T cell recall responses. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the LT pathway and its ability to maintain lymphoid microenvironments is critical for sustaining late-phase T cell responses in multiple sclerosis.
Jennifer L. Gommerman, Keith Giza, Stuart Perper, Irene Sizing, Apinya Ngam-ek, Cheryl Nickerson-Nutter, Jeffrey L. Browning