Tel.+49 30 838 53221 Fax.+49 30 838 53112
Migration of immune cells to the target organ plays a key role in autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the exact underlying mechanisms of this active process during autoimmune lesion pathogenesis remain elusive. To test if pro-inflammatory and regulatory T cells migrate via a similar molecular mechanism, we analyzed the expression of different adhesion molecules, as well as the composition of infiltrating T cells in an in vivo model of MS, adoptive transfer experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in rats. We found that the upregulation of ICAM-I and VCAM-I parallels the development of clinical disease onset, but persists on elevated levels also in the phase of clinical remission. However, the composition of infiltrating T cells found in the developing versus resolving lesion phase changed over time, containing increased numbers of regulatory T cells (FoxP3) only in the phase of clinical remission. In order to test the relevance of the expression of cell adhesion molecules, animals were treated with purified antibodies to ICAM-I and VCAM-I either in the phase of active disease or in early remission. Treatment with a blocking ICAM-I antibody in the phase of disease progression led to a milder disease course. However, administration during early clinical remission aggravates clinical symptoms. Treatment with anti-VCAM-I at different timepoints had no significant effect on the disease course. In summary, our results indicate that adhesion molecules are not only important for capture and migration of pro-inflammatory T cells into the central nervous system, but also permit access of anti-inflammatory cells, such as regulatory T cells. Therefore it is likely to assume that intervention at the blood brain barrier is time dependent and could result in different therapeutic outcomes depending on the phase of CNS lesion development.