Encephalitogenic and Regulatory CD8 T Cells in Multiple Sclerosis and Its Animal Models

J Immunol. 2021 Jan 1;206(1):3-10. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2000797.


Multiple sclerosis (MS), a neuroinflammatory disease that affects millions worldwide, is widely thought to be autoimmune in etiology. Historically, research into MS pathogenesis has focused on autoreactive CD4 T cells because of their critical role in the animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, and the association between MS susceptibility and single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the MHC class II region. However, recent studies have revealed prominent clonal expansions of CD8 T cells within the CNS during MS. In this paper, we review the literature on CD8 T cells in MS, with an emphasis on their potential effector and regulatory properties. We discuss the impact of disease modifying therapies, currently prescribed to reduce MS relapse rates, on CD8 T cell frequency and function. A deeper understanding of the role of CD8 T cells in MS may lead to the development of more effective and selective immunomodulatory drugs for particular subsets of patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*