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Background: Astrocytes expressing the aquaporin-4 water channel are a primary target of pathogenic, disease-specific immunoglobulins (IgG) found in patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO). Immunopathological analyses of active NMO lesions highlight a unique inflammatory phenotype marked by infiltration of granulocytes. Previous studies characterized this granulocytic infiltrate as a response to vasculocentric complement activation and localized tissue destruction. In contrast, we observe that granulocytic infiltration in NMO lesions occurs independently of complement-mediated tissue destruction or active demyelination. These immunopathological findings led to the hypothesis that NMO IgG stimulates astrocyte signaling that is responsible for granulocytic recruitment in NMO. Methods: Histopathology was performed on archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded autopsy-derived CNS tissue from 23 patients clinically and pathologically diagnosed with NMO or NMO spectrum disorder. Primary murine astroglial cultures were stimulated with IgG isolated from NMO patients or control IgG from healthy donors. Transcriptional responses were assessed by microarray, and translational responses were measured by ELISA. Signaling through the NFΚB pathway was measured by western blotting and immunostaining. Results: Stimulation of primary murine astroglial cultures with NMO IgG elicited a reactive and inflammatory transcriptional response that involved signaling through the canonical NFΚB pathway. This signaling resulted in the release of pro-granulocytic chemokines and was inhibited by the clinically relevant proteasome inhibitors bortezomib and PR-957. Conclusions: We propose that the astrocytic NFΚB-dependent inflammatory response to stimulation by NMO IgG represents one of the earliest events in NMO pathogenesis, providing a target for therapeutic intervention upstream of irreversible cell death and tissue damage.
Walker-Caulfield, M. E., Guo, Y., Johnson, R. K., McCarthy, C. B., Fitz-Gibbon, P. D., Lucchinetti, C. F., & Howe, C. L. (2015). NFΚB signaling drives pro-granulocytic astroglial responses to neuromyelitis optica patient IgG. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-015-0403-8