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Virus infection may trigger unusual immune cells to attack nerves in multiple sclerosis
Date:6/11/2010

ve cells.

"These results," the authors noted, "demonstrate a role for dual-receptor cells in autoimmunity." The study also points to why a ubiquitous viral infection could leave most people without any lasting effects, but trigger autoimmunity in genetically predisposed individuals.

The findings open a new perspective on the proposal that multiple sclerosis is virally induced, despite the inability to detect infectious virus in the central nervous system of multiple sclerosis patients. Data from other studies show that CD8+T cells can cross the blood-brain barrier, and also that multiple sclerosis patients have more central nervous system protein-specific CD8+T cells, compared to healthy people.

In the dual-receptor model, the autoimmune activity against nerve protein can continue after the virus is wiped out. Multiple sclerosis patients usually have high levels of antibodies indicating past infectious from several common viruses, but a live virus associated with multiple sclerosis has not been consistently observed. Therefore, to date, no specific virus has been confirmed as a causative agent for multiple sclerosis.

The authors explained that it's possible that multiple viruses could influence susceptibility to multiple sclerosis. The ability of any particular virus to contribute to the disease could depend on an individual's own repertoire of other predisposing genes, exposure to other predisposing environmental factors, and the random chance that T cells had been generated that recognize a myelin protein and a pathogen.

Receptors on T cells are randomly generated during their development. This observation helps explain why multiple sclerosis is partly a matter of chance. Some people with a genetic predisposition and environmental exposure develop the disease, while others with similar genetic predisposition and environmental exposure do not.

It's uncertain how common these dual-receptor T cells are, acco
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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