Cytokine profile of myelin basic protein-reactive T cells in multiple sclerosis and healthy individuals

Ann Neurol. 1997 Jul;42(1):18-27. doi: 10.1002/ana.410420106.


Myelin basic protein (MBP)-reactive T cells have been implicated in the autoimmune pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we examined the cytokine profile of 531 primary MBP-reactive T-cell lines and 72 independently established clones from 32 patients with MS and 18 healthy controls (NS) by using highly sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. An increased number of primary T-cell lines producing interferon-gamma (IFN gamma) and/or interleukin-4 (IL-4) in response to MBP were found in patients with MS compared with controls. No distinct Th1 or Th2 subtypes could be demonstrated among the MBP-reactive clones. IL-4 was more frequently observed among MS-derived clones. Clones derived from MS patients produced increased levels of IL-2, IL-4, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha), IFN gamma, and IL-10, but not IL-6. It is interesting that MBP-reactive T cells from MS patients expressing the disease-associated HLA-DRB1*15 allele produced increased quantities of TNF alpha, a cytokine suggested to play an important role in inflammation and demyelination. When challenged with either MBP or a bacterial superantigen, the clones expressed similar levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IFN gamma. Our study suggests a functional difference in T-cell responses to MBP in patients with MS compared with healthy individuals, and provides further insights into the role of MBP-reactive T cells and their cytokine profile in the inflammatory processes of MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Line
  • Clone Cells
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Enterotoxins / pharmacology
  • Female
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / pharmacology*
  • Reference Values
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Enterotoxins
  • HLA Antigens
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal