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As there is evidence that in multiple sclerosis T-cell activation occurs in the central nervous system rather than outside, the inflammatory lesion may be extended through antigen presentation by cells at the edge of the plaque. In this study we present an immunocytochemical report on CNS tissue from an active case of MS, with an analysis of the distribution of CD4 and CD8 binding T cells and the expression of class I and II MHC determinants in plaques and white matter. Perivascular cuffs of early lesions, as judged by hypercellularity and minimal demyelination, contained activated T (Tac+) cells, which reacted with an anti-IL-2 monoclonal antibody. Thus sufficient T-cell growth factor would appear to be present to fuel the immune reaction in a growing lesion. The preponderance of T cells of the cytotoxic/suppressor (CD8) phenotype in the CNS parenchyma was found in conjunction with widespread staining of class I MHC antigen, a prerequisite for activity of cytotoxic T cells. Potential antigen presenting cells were demonstrated in MS plaques with a monoclonal antibody against the cytoplasmic, invariant chain of class II MHC. Macrophages and astrocytes, contributed to the staining in the hypercellular plaque border while the distribution of class II+ microglia in white matter suggest they may also be of importance in local antigen presentation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Sci

Publication Date





135 - 152


Adult, Brain, Central Nervous System, Female, HLA Antigens, Humans, Lymphocytes, Macrophages, Male, Monocytes, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuroglia, T-Lymphocytes