The ability of rats or mice to withstand the consequences of injury to myelinated axons in the CNS was previously shown to depend on the ability to manifest a T cell-mediated protective immune response, which is amenable to boosting by myelin-specific T cells. Here we show that this ability, assessed by retinal ganglion cell survival after optic nerve injury or locomotor activity after spinal cord contusion, is decreased if the animals were immunized as neonates with myelin proteins (resulting in their nonresponsiveness as adults to myelin proteins) or injected with naturally occurring regulatory CD4+CD25+ T cells immediately after the injury, and is improved by elimination of these regulatory T cells. In nude BALB/c mice replenished with a splenocyte population lacking CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells, significantly more neurons survived after optic nerve injury than in nude mice replenished with a complete splenocyte population or in matched wild-type controls. In contrast, neuronal survival in wild-type BALB/c mice injected with CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells immediately after injury was significantly worse than in noninjected controls. These findings suggest that the ability to cope with the sequelae of a CNS insult is affected unfavorably by nonresponsiveness to myelin self-antigens and favorably by conditions allowing rapid expression of an autoimmune response. The regulatory T cells might represent an evolutionary compromise between the need to avoid autoimmune diseases and the need for autoimmunity on alert for the purpose of tissue maintenance.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Nov 26 2002|