Potential role of CD4+ T cell-mediated apoptosis of activated astrocytes in Theiler's virus-induced demyelination

Jo Ann P Palma, Robert L. Yauch, Sharon Lang, Byung S. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Intracerebral inoculation of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) into susceptible mouse strains results in a chronic, immune-mediated demyelinating disease similar to human multiple sclerosis. Here, we examined the role of astrocytes as an APC population in TMEV-induced demyelination and assessed the potential consequences of T cell activation following Ag presentation. IFN-γ-pretreated astrocytes were able to process and present all the predominant T cell epitopes of TMEV to virus-specific T cell hybridomas, clones, as well as bulk T cells. Despite low levels of proliferation of T cells due to prostaglandins produced by astrocytes, such Ag presentation by activated astrocytes induced the production of IFN-γ, a representative proinflammatory cytokine, in TMEV-specific Th cell clones derived from the CNS of virus-infected mice. Furthermore, these Th cell clones mediate lysis of the astrocytes in vitro in a Fas-dependent mechanism. TUNEL staining of CNS tissue demonstrates the presence of apoptotic GFAP+ cells in the white matter of TMEV-infected mice. These results strongly suggest that astrocytes could play an important role in the pathogenesis of TMEV-induced demyelination by activating T cells, subsequently leading to T cell-mediated apoptosis of astrocytes and thereby compromising the blood- brain barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6543-6551
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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