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Archeological neuroimmunology: resurrection of a pathogenic immune response from a historical case sheds light on human autoimmune encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis.

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 19;21(22):8732. doi: 10.3390/ijms21228732. PMID: 33227998; PMCID: PMC7699240.

Authors/Editors: Beltrán E, Paunovic M, Gebert D, Cesur E, Jeitler M, Höftberger R, Malotka J, Mader S, Kawakami N, Meinl E, Bradl M, Dornmair K, Lassmann H.
Publication Date: 2020


Aim of our study was to identify the target auto-antigen in the central nervous system recognized by the immune system of a unique patient, who died more than 60 years ago from a disease with pathological changes closely resembling multiple sclerosis (MS), following a misguided immunization with lyophilized calf brain tissue. Total mRNA was isolated from formaldehyde fixed and paraffin embedded archival brain tissue containing chronic active inflammatory demyelinating lesions with inflammatory infiltrates rich in B-lymphocytes and plasma cells. Analysis of the transcriptome by next generation sequencing and reconstruction of the dominant antibody by bioinformatic tools revealed the presence of one strongly expanded B-cell clone, producing an autoantibody against a conformational epitope of myelin oligodendrocytes glycoprotein (MOG), similar to that recognized by the well characterized monoclonal anti-MOG antibody 8-18C5. The reconstructed antibody induced demyelination after systemic or intrathecal injection into animals with T-cell mediated encephalomyelitis. Our study suggests that immunization with bovine brain tissue in humans may—in a small subset of patients—induce a disease with an intermediate clinical and pathological presentation between MS and MOG-antibody associated inflammatory demyelinating disease (MOGAD).

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