Autoreactive T lymphocytes in multiple sclerosis determined by antigen-induced secretion of interferon-gamma

J Clin Invest. 1990 Sep;86(3):981-5. doi: 10.1172/JCI114800.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease with unknown cause characterized by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system. Although an autoimmune pathogenesis has been suggested, there are no conclusive data on the number of T cells autoreactive with myelin antigens in MS compared to controls. We showed that T lymphocytes secreting interferon-gamma in response to possible target autoantigens are severalfold more common among PBL mononuclear cells in patients with MS than in patients with aseptic meningitis and tension headache. On average T cells reactive with myelin basic protein (MBP), two different MBP peptides, or with proteolipid protein amounted to 2.7-5.2/10(5) PBL from MS patients. MBP-reactive T cells were still more frequent among mononuclear cells isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; 185/10(5) CSF cells). We concluded that T cells reactive with myelin autoantigens are strongly increased in MS. This approach to detect them could allow definition of immunodominant T cell epitopes in individual MS patients, and thereby enable further development towards specific immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / cytology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / immunology
  • Myelin Proteins / immunology
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Autoantigens
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Myelin Proteins
  • Myelin Proteolipid Protein
  • Interferon-gamma