In the pathogenesis of central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating disorders, antigen-specific B cells are implicated to act as potent antigen-presenting cells (APC), eliciting waves of inflammatory CNS infiltration. Here, we provide the first evidence that CNS-reactive antibodies (Ab) are similarly capable of initiating an encephalitogenic immune response by targeting endogenous CNS antigen to otherwise inert myeloid APC. In a transgenic mouse model, constitutive production of Ab against myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) was sufficient to promote spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in the absence of B cells, when mice endogenously contained MOG-recognizing T cells. Adoptive transfer studies corroborated that anti-MOG Ab triggered activation and expansion of peripheral MOG-specific T cells in an Fc-dependent manner, subsequently causing EAE. To evaluate the underlying mechanism, anti-MOG Ab were added to a co-culture of myeloid APC and MOG-specific T cells. At otherwise undetected concentrations, anti-MOG Ab enabled Fc-mediated APC recognition of intact MOG; internalized, processed and presented MOG activated naïve T cells to differentiate in an encephalitogenic manner. In a series of translational experiments, anti-MOG Ab from two patients with an acute flare of CNS inflammation likewise facilitated detection of human MOG. Jointly, these observations highlight Ab-mediated opsonization of endogenous CNS auto-antigen as a novel disease- and/or relapse-triggering mechanism in CNS demyelinating disorders.
Keywords: Auto-antibodies; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Fc receptor; Multiple sclerosis; Myeloid antigen-presenting cells; Opsonization.