Epitope and functional specificity of peripheral tolerance induction in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in adult Lewis rats

Michele K H Malotky, Louise Pope, Stephen D. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Intravenous treatment of Lewis rats with neuroantigen-coupled splenocytes 7 days before the induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis with guinea pig myelin basic protein (GP-MBP) resulted in a significant reduction of both the incidence and severity of clinical disease. To test the epitope and functional specificities of the unresponsiveness, splenocytes (SP) coupled with the major encephalitogenic MBP determinant, GP-68-86, were compared with those coupled with intact GP-MBP for the ability to down-regulate clinical disease and Ag-specific T cell responses (proliferation, cytokine production, and delayed-type hypersensitivity) in animals primed with either intact GP-MBP/CFA or GP-68-86/CFA. GP-MBP-SP and GP-68-86-SP were equally efficient at significantly inhibiting clinical disease in animals primed with GP-68-86/CFA. In contrast, tolerization with intact GP-MBP-SP was significantly more efficient than that with GP-68-86-SP at reducing disease incidence and severity in GP-MBP/CFA-primed animals, which indicates a role for secondary (cryptic) encephalitogenic epitopes in GP-MBP-induced disease. By testing a panel of GP-68-86 peptides that contained conservative amino acid substitutions at either position 75 (A75) or 80 (P80) or at both, residues that previously had been shown to be TCR contact residues, for their ability to inhibit experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induction, were assessed for the fine specificity of tolerance induction. None of the substituted peptides were capable of affecting the course of paralytic disease that had been induced by sensitization with the native GP-68-86 epitope, but all significantly reduced a milder form of the disease that had been produced by priming with the (A75, P80) 68-86 substituted peptide. With regard to the functional specificity of tolerance induction, lymph node T cells derived from either GP-MBP-SP- or GP-68-86-SP-treated animals exhibited a marked reduction in both proliferation and production of Th1-derived cytokines (IL-2, IFN-γ, and lymphotoxin/TNF-α) in response to either GP-MBP or GP-68-86 in culture. In contrast, no consistent significant differences in delayed-type hypersensitivity responses were observed in any of the experimental groups relative to controls. Histologic examination of central nervous system tissues from the tolerant and control groups revealed significantly reduced, but still demonstrable, levels of perivascular infiltration even in asymptomatic animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-851
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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