Autoreactive T cells can infiltrate the CNS to cause disorders such as multiple sclerosis. In order to visualize T cell activation in the CNS, we introduced a truncated fluorescent derivative of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) as a real-time T cell activation indicator. In experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a rat model of multiple sclerosis, we tracked T cells interacting with structures of the vascular blood-brain barrier (BBB). 2-photon imaging documented the cytoplasmic-nuclear translocation of fluorescent NFAT, indicative of calcium-dependent activation of the T cells in the perivascular space, but not within the vascular lumen. The activation was related to contacts with the local antigen-presenting phagocytes and was noted only in T cells with a high pathogenic potential. T cell activation implied the presentation of an autoantigen, as the weakly pathogenic T cells, which remained silent in the untreated hosts, were activated upon instillation of exogenous autoantigen. Activation did not cogently signal long-lasting arrest, as individual T cells were able to sequentially contact fresh APCs. We propose that the presentation of local autoantigen by BBB-associated APCs provides stimuli that guide autoimmune T cells to the CNS destination, enabling them to attack the target tissue.
Marija Pesic, Ingo Bartholomäus, Nikolaos I. Kyratsous, Vigo Heissmeyer, Hartmut Wekerle, Naoto Kawakami
The Editorial Board will only consider comments that are deemed relevant and of interest to readers. The Journal will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review; or a comment that is essentially a reiteration of another comment.