T cell infiltration into the CNS is a significant underlying pathogenesis in autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating diseases. Several lines of evidence suggest that glutamate dysregulation in the CNS is an important consequence of immune cell infiltration in neuroinflammatory demyelinating diseases; yet, the causal link between inflammation and glutamate dysregulation is not well understood. A major source of glutamate release during oxidative stress is the system Xc- transporter; however, this mechanism has not been tested in animal models of autoimmune inflammatory demyelination. We find that pharmacological and genetic inhibition of system Xc- attenuates chronic and relapsing-remitting experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Remarkably, pharmacological blockade of system Xc- 7 d after induction of EAE attenuated T cell infiltration into the CNS, but not T cell activation in the periphery. Mice harboring a Slc7a11 (xCT) mutation that inactivated system Xc- were resistant to EAE, corroborating a central role for system Xc- in mediating immune cell infiltration. We next examined the role of the system Xc- transporter in the CNS after immune cell infiltration. Pharmacological inhibitors of the system Xc- transporter administered during the first relapse in a SJL animal model of relapsing-remitting EAE abrogated clinical disease, inflammation, and myelin loss. Primary coculture studies demonstrate that myelin-specific CD4+ Th1 cells provoke microglia to release glutamate via the system Xc- transporter, causing excitotoxic death to mature myelin-producing oligodendrocytes. Taken together, these studies support a novel role for the system Xc- transporter in mediating T cell infiltration into the CNS as well as promoting myelin destruction after immune cell infiltration in EAE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy