Perforin competent CD8 T cells are sufficient to cause immune-mediated blood-brain barrier disruption

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Numerous neurological disorders are characterized by central nervous system (CNS) vascular permeability. However, the underlying contribution of inflammatory-derived factors leading to pathology associated with blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption remains poorly understood. In order to address this, we developed an inducible model of BBB disruption using a variation of the Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) model of multiple sclerosis. This peptide induced fatal syndrome (PIFS) model is initiated by virus-specific CD8 T cells and results in severe CNS vascular permeability and death in the C57BL/6 mouse strain. While perforin is required for BBB disruption, the cellular source of perforin has remained unidentified. In addition to CD8 T cells, various innate immune cells also express perforin and therefore could also contribute to BBB disruption. To investigate this, we isolated the CD8 T cell as the sole perforin-expressing cell type in the PIFS model through adoptive transfer techniques. We determined that C57BL/6 perforin-/- mice reconstituted with perforin competent CD8 T cells and induced to undergo PIFS exhibited: 1) heightened CNS vascular permeability, 2) increased astrocyte activation as measured by GFAP expression, and 3) loss of linear organization of BBB tight junction proteins claudin-5 and occludin in areas of CNS vascular permeability when compared to mock-treated controls. These results are consistent with the characteristics associated with PIFS in perforin competent mice. Therefore, CD8 T cells are sufficient as a sole perforin-expressing cell type to cause BBB disruption in the PIFS model.




Johnson, H. L., Willenbring, R. C., Jin, F., Manhart, W. A., La France, S. J., Pirko, I., & Johnson, A. J. (2014). Perforin competent CD8 T cells are sufficient to cause immune-mediated blood-brain barrier disruption. PLoS ONE, 9(10).

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