γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the CNS, and GABA transporter 1 (GAT-1) is critical in maintaining a GABA reservoir and associated functions. The wide expression of GAT-1 in the CNS prompted us to explore its role in neuroimmunological disorders. In mice induced with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of multiple sclerosis, we found that the expression levels of GAT-1 mRNA and protein in spinal cord were greatly suppressed as compared with those in naive mice and irrelevant Ag-immunized mice. Therefore, we induced EAE in GAT-1 -/- mice and found that the disease was significantly aggravated and was accompanied by some nonclassic EAE signs. Mononuclear cells from GAT-1 -/- mice with EAE showed much higher Ag-specific proliferative responses. Proinflammatory cytokine production in these mice was also greatly up-regulated. Further studies revealed that GAT-1 deficiency induced vigorous immune responses by enhancing IκB kinase phosphorylation and NF-κB-DNA binding activity, as well as strengthening the T-bet-STAT1 circuit signaling pathway. Finally, we found that GAT-1 was expressed only on activated T cells primed with Ags, but not on B cells or macrophages. These findings indicate that GAT-1 is a critical modulator in T cell-mediated immune responses and in EAE pathogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy