Author(s): Bodhankar S, Wang C, Vandenbark AA, Offner H
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Abstract Increased remissions in multiple sclerosis (MS) during pregnancy suggest that elevated levels of sex steroids exert immunoregulatory activity. Estrogen (E2=17β-estradiol) protects against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), but the cellular basis for E2-induced protection remains unclear. Studies demonstrate that depletion of B cells prior to induction of EAE exacerbates disease severity, implicating regulatory B cells. We thus evaluated pathogenic and E2-induced protective mechanisms in B-cell-deficient (μMT(-/-)) mice. EAE-protective effects of E2 were abrogated in μMT(-/-) mice, with no reduction in disease severity, cellular infiltration or pro-inflammatory factors in the central nervous system compared to untreated controls. E2 treatment of WT mice selectively upregulated expression of PD-L1 on B cells and increased the percentage of IL-10-producing CD1d(high) CD5(+) regulatory B cells. Upregulation of PD-L1 was critical for E2-mediated protection since E2 did not inhibit EAE in PD-L1(-/-) mice. Direct treatment of B cells with E2 significantly reduced proliferation of MOG(35-55)-specific T cells that required estrogen receptor-α (ERα). These results demonstrate, for the first time, a requirement for B cells in E2-mediated protection against EAE involving direct E2 effects on regulatory B cells mediated through ERα and the PD-1/PD-L1 negative co-stimulatory pathway. E2-primed B cells may represent an important regulatory mechanism in MS and have strong implications for women receiving current MS therapies that cause B-cell depletion. Copyright © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
This article was published in Eur J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology