Meningeal B lymphocyte aggregates have been described in autopsy material of patients with chronic multiple sclerosis. The presence of meningeal B cell aggregates has been correlated with worse disease. However, the functional role of these meningeal B cell aggregates is not understood. Here, we use a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, the spontaneous opticospinal encephalomyelitis model, which is built on the double transgenic expression of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-specific T-cell and B-cell receptors, to show that the formation of meningeal B cell aggregates is dependent on the expression of α4 integrins by antigen-specific T cells. T cell-conditional genetic ablation of α4 integrins in opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice impaired the formation of meningeal B cell aggregates, and surprisingly, led to a higher disease incidence as compared to opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice with α4 integrin-sufficient T cells. B cell-conditional ablation of α4 integrins in opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice resulted in the entire abrogation of the formation of meningeal B cell aggregates, and opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice with α4 integrin-deficient B cells suffered from a higher disease burden than regular opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice. While anti-CD20 antibody-mediated systemic depletion of B cells in opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice after onset of disease failed to efficiently decrease meningeal B cell aggregates without significantly modulating disease progression, treatment with anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor-T cells eliminated meningeal B cell aggregates and exacerbated clinical disease in opticospinal encephalomyelitis mice. Since about 20% of B cells in organized meningeal B cell aggregates produced either IL-10 or IL-35, we propose that meningeal B cell aggregates might also have an immunoregulatory function as to the immunopathology in adjacent spinal cord white matter. The immunoregulatory function of meningeal B cell aggregates needs to be considered when designing highly efficient therapies directed against meningeal B cell aggregates for clinical application in multiple sclerosis.
Keywords: B cell; CAR T cell; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; meningeal inflammation; multiple sclerosis.
© The Author(s) (2021). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.