Bacterial peptidoglycan and immune reactivity in the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis

Brain. 2001 Aug;124(Pt 8):1544-54. doi: 10.1093/brain/124.8.1544.


Multiple sclerosis is believed to result from a CD4+ T-cell response against myelin antigens. Peptidoglycan, a major component of the Gram-positive bacterial cell wall, is a functional lipopolysaccharide analogue with potent proinflammatory properties and is conceivably a mediator of sterile inflammation. Here we demonstrate that peptidoglycan is present within antigen-presenting cells in the brain of multiple sclerosis patients. These cells have macrophage and dendritic cell characteristics, and are immunocompetent as evidenced by co-expression of inflammatory cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules. In addition, intrathecal plasma cells specific for peptidoglycan are present in multiple sclerosis brain tissue, and antibodies binding peptidoglycan are present in CSF during active disease. Peptidoglycan may thus contribute to T- and B-cell activity during brain inflammation without a requirement for local bacterial replication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis
  • Autopsy
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Central Nervous System / immunology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Peptidoglycan / analysis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Peptidoglycan