Antigen-specific inhibition of the adoptive transfer of experimental autoimmune enceophalomyelitis in Lewis rats

Louise Pope, Philip Y. Paterson, Stephen D. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The efficacy of antigen-specific immunoregulation as a treatment for the efferent limb of an autoimmune disease was tested in a rat model of adoptive experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Lewis rats receiving 4-5 × 107 guinea pig (GP) myelin basic protein (MBP)-activated lymph node T cell blasts from GPMBP/CFA sensitized donors routinely show clinical signs of disease 5-6 days post transfer. Intravenous injection of GPMBP coupled to syngeneic splenocytes using the chemical cross-linker carbodiimide was effective in completely abrogating the experssion of clinical EAA in rats that received MBP-specific T cells 2 days previously. Partial inhibition was also observed in rats injected as early as day 0 (the same day as MBP-specific T cell transfer) and as late as 1 day prior to the onset of clinicla signs (days 4-5 post trasfer). Unresponsiveness was shwon to be dose-dependent, dependent on the route of injection of the neuroantigen-coupled splenocytes, and was antigen-specific. Splenocytes coupled with GP or rat MBP (which are identical within the major encephalitogenic GP68-86 Lewis rat determinant with the exception of the residue at position 80) were equally efficient at eliminating disease expression in recipients of GPMBP-specific T cells. In contrast, splenocytes coupled with bovine or rabbit MBP (which differ significantly from GPMBP within the 68-86 region) had no inhibitory effects. The antigen specificity of the tolerance induction was also illustrated by the fact that splenocytes coupled with GP68-86, but not those coupled with the truncated GP68-84 peptide, induced profound unresponsiveness. Interestingly, de novo antigen processing by the antigen-coupled cells did not appear to be necessary as the inclusion of antigen processing inhibitors had no effect on inhibition of disease. However, the use of the carbodiimide couplign reagent was critical for the induction of unrespnosiveness as essentially equivalent amounts of 125I-labelled MBP were bound in its presence or absence, but only splenocytes incubated in the presence of both MBP and carbodiimide inhibited clinical expression of disease. Antigen-specific tolerance is thus an effective means of inhibiting expression of clinical disease in teh rat EAE model, and a powerful tool for determining the fine epitope specificity of encephalitogenic T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1992


  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Lewis rat
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelin basic protein
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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