Increased ex vivo antigen presentation profile of B cells in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2017 May;23(6):802-809. doi: 10.1177/1352458516664210. Epub 2016 Aug 8.


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be T cell mediated but the mechanisms eliciting such a dysregulated adaptative immune response remain enigmatic.

Objective: To examine the activation profile of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in MS.

Methods: A total of 98 study subjects were enrolled including patients suffering from relapsing-remitting, secondary- and primary-progressive (PP) MS, other inflammatory neurological diseases, and healthy controls. Blood monocytes and B cells were stimulated using specific ligands of toll-like receptors (TLRs) or inflammasomes or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) particles. Their activation profile was determined before or after stimulation by flow cytometry (CD40, CD80, CD83, CD86, and human leukocyte antigen-antigen D related (HLA-DR)) and Luminex assay, measuring the concentration of eight cytokines in culture supernatants. Differences among groups were assessed in a linear model framework.

Results: We demonstrate that relapsing MS patients exhibit an increased expression of HLA-DR and CD40 ex vivo, mostly at the surface of B cells. Specific stimulations of TLR or inflammasomes enhance the expression of components of the immunological synapse and the cytokine secretion but without differences between categories of study subjects.

Conclusion: These data suggest that the activation profile of B cells is increased in MS. However, the perception of the danger signal by B lymphocytes and monocytes does not seem to be different in MS patients as compared to control subjects.

Keywords: B cells; Multiple sclerosis; antigen-presenting cell activation profile; cytokine secretion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • HLA-DR Antigens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / blood*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / blood*


  • CD40 Antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens