Background: There is increasing awareness that, aside from producing cerebrospinal fluid, the choroid plexus (CP) might be a key regulator of immune activity in the central nervous system (CNS) during neuroinflammation. Specifically, the CP has recently been posited to control entry of sentinel T cells into the uninflamed CNS during the early stages of neuroinflammatory diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). As the CP is compartmentalized into a stromal core containing fenestrated capillaries devoid of typical blood-brain barrier properties, surrounded by a tight junction-expressing choroidal epithelium, each of these compartments might mount unique responses that instigate the neuroinflammatory process.
Methods: To discern responses of the respective CP stromal capillary and choroidal epithelial tissues during evolving neuroinflammation, we investigated morphology and in situ expression of 93 immune-related genes during early stages of EAE induced by immunization with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide (MOG35-55). Specifically, 3-D immunofluorescent imaging was employed to gauge morphological changes, and laser capture microdissection was coupled to an Immune Panel TaqMan Low Density Array to detail alterations in gene expression patterns at these separate CP sites on days 9 and 15 post-immunization (p.i.). To resolve CP effects due to autoimmunity against MOG peptide, from those due to complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) and pertussis toxin (PTX) included in the immunization, analysis was performed on MOG-CFA/PTX-treated, CFA/PTX-treated, and naïve cohorts.
Results: The CP became swollen and displayed significant molecular changes in response to MOG-CFA/PTX immunization. Both stromal capillary and choroidal epithelial tissues mounted vigorous, yet different, changes in expression of numerous genes over the time course analyzed - including those encoding adhesion molecules, cytokines, chemokines, statins, interleukins, T cell activation markers, costimulatory molecules, cyclooxygenase, pro-inflammatory transcription factors and pro-apoptotic markers. Moreover, CFA/PTX-treatment, alone, resulted in extensive, though less robust, alterations in both CP compartments.
Conclusions: MOG-CFA/PTX immunization significantly affects CP morphology and stimulates distinct expression patterns of immune-related genes in CP stromal capillary and epithelial tissues during evolving EAE. CFA/PTX treatment, alone, causes widespread gene alterations that could prime the CP to unlock the CNS to T cell infiltration during neuroinflammatory disease.