Context: T-lymphocyte migration through the blood-brain barrier is a central event in the process of lesion formation in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Objectives: To assess the ability of lymphocytes derived from the peripheral blood of patients with clinically active and inactive MS to migrate across an artificial model of the blood-brain barrier and to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in such a process.
Design: We developed an in vitro model of lymphocyte migration using a Boyden chamber coated with a monolayer of human brain microvascular endothelial cells.
Results: The rates of migration of lymphocytes obtained from patients with acutely relapsing and active secondary progressive MS was significantly increased compared with those obtained from healthy controls and patients with inactive secondary progressive disease. Ribonuclease protection assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays indicated that monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and interleukin 8 were the major chemokines produced by brain endothelial cells grown under the culture conditions used for the migration assays. The rate of migration of the MS lymphocytes could be inhibited by 60% with an antimonocyte chemoattractant protein 1 monoclonal antibody, indicating a functional role for this chemokine in the migration process. In agreement with previous reports, we found that the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1, a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor, also reduced migration of MS lymphocytes by 50%.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate an increased migration rate of MS T lymphocytes across the brain endothelium barrier and that such migration is dependent on chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and on matrix metalloproteinases.