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CNS Aquaporin-4-specific B cells connect with multiple B-cell compartments in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2017 May 9;4(6):369-380. doi: 10.1002/acn3.418. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Authors/Editors: Kowarik MC, Astling D, Gasperi C, Wemlinger S, Schumann H, Dzieciatkowska M, Ritchie AM, Hemmer B, Owens GP, Bennett JL.
Publication Date: 2017



Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a severe inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) targeted against aquaporin-4 (AQP4). The origin and trafficking of AQP4-specific B cells in NMOSD remains unknown.

Peripheral (n = 7) and splenic B cells (n = 1) recovered from seven NMOSD patients were sorted into plasmablasts, naïve, memory, and CD27-IgD- double negative (DN) B cells, and variable heavy chain (VH) transcriptome sequences were generated by deep sequencing. Peripheral blood (PB) VH repertoires were compared to the same patient's single-cell cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) plasmablast (PB) VH transcriptome, CSF immunoglobulin (Ig) proteome, and serum Ig proteome. Recombinant antibodies were generated from paired CSF heavy- and light chains and tested for AQP4 reactivity.

Approximately 9% of the CSF VH sequences aligned with PB memory B cells, DN B cells, and plasmablast VH sequences. AQP4-specific VH sequences were observed in each peripheral B-cell compartment. Lineage analysis of clonally related VH sequences indicates that CSF AQP4-specific B cells are closely related to an expanded population of DN B cells that may undergo antigen-specific B-cell maturation within the CNS. CSF and serum Ig proteomes overlapped with the VH sequences from each B-cell compartment; the majority of matches occurring between the PB VH sequences and serum Ig proteome.

During an acute NMOSD relapse, a dynamic exchange of B cells occurs between the periphery and CNS with AQP4-specific CSF B cells emerging from postgerminal center memory B cells and plasmablasts. Expansion of the PB DN B-cell compartment may be a potential biomarker of NMOSD activity.

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