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Neuromyelitis optica is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system associated with autoantibodies against the glial water channel protein aquaporin-4. It has recently been reported that immunoglobulin from neuromyelitis optica patients injected peripherally does not cause lesions in naive rats, but only when pre-existing central nervous system inflammation is present. Here, we investigated whether immunoglobulin G from aquaporin-4-autoantibody-positive neuromyelitis optica patients has the potential to damage the central nervous system either alone or in the presence of human complement. Immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients did not activate mouse complement and was not pathogenic when injected into mouse brain. However, co-injection of immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement produced neuromyelitis optica-like lesions in mice. Within 12 h of co-injecting immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients and human complement, there was a striking loss of aquaporin-4 expression, glial cell oedema, myelin breakdown and axonal injury, but little intra-parenchymal inflammation. At 7 days, there was extensive inflammatory cell infiltration, perivascular deposition of activated complement components, extensive demyelination, loss of aquaporin-4 expression, loss of reactive astrocytes and neuronal cell death. In behavioural studies, mice injected with immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients and human complement into the right hemisphere preferentially turned to the right at 7 days. No brain inflammation, demyelination or right-turning behaviour was seen in wild-type mice that received immunoglobulin G from non-neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement, or in aquaporin-4-null mice that received immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement. We conclude that co-injection of immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement reproduces the key histological features of neuromyelitis optica and that aquaporin-4 is necessary and sufficient for immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients to exert its effect. In our mouse model, immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients does not require pre-existing central nervous system inflammation to produce lesions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/brain/awp309

Type

Journal article

Journal

Brain

Publication Date

02/2010

Volume

133

Pages

349 - 361

Keywords

Animals, Aquaporin 4, Autoantibodies, CHO Cells, Complement System Proteins, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Disease Models, Animal, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Injections, Intraventricular, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Neuromyelitis Optica