Citrullination of myelin basic protein induces a Th17-cell response in healthy individuals and enhances the presentation of MBP85-99 in patients with multiple sclerosis

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The post-translational modification citrullination has been proposed to play a role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). Myelin basic protein (MBP) is a candidate autoantigen which is citrullinated to a minor extent under physiological conditions and hypercitrullinated in MS. We examined immune cell responses elicited by hypercitrullinated MBP (citMBP) in cultures of mononuclear cells from 18 patients with MS and 42 healthy donors (HDs). The immunodominant peptide of MBP, MBP85-99, containing citrulline in position 99, outcompeted the binding of native MBP85-99 to HLA-DR15, which is strongly linked to MS. Moreover, using the monoclonal antibody MK16 as probe, we observed that B cells and monocytes from HLA-DR15+ patients with MS presented MBP85-99 more efficiently after challenge with citMBP than with native MBP. Both citMBP and native MBP induced proliferation of CD4+ T cells from patients with MS as well as TNF-α production by their B cells and CD4+ T cells, and citrullination of MBP tended to enhance TNF-α secretion by CD4+ T cells from HLA-DR15+ patients. Unlike native MBP, citMBP induced differentiation into Th17 cells in cultures from HDs, while neither form of MBP induced Th17-cell differentiation in cultures from patients with MS. These data suggest a role for citrullination in the breach of tolerance to MBP in healthy individuals and in maintenance of the autoimmune response to MBP in patients with MS.

TidsskriftJournal of Autoimmunity
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Copenhagen , the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Society (Grant number: A40047 ), and the Foundation for Research in Neurology (Grant number: A2903 ). The funding agencies did not have any role in the study design, the collection, analysis and/or interpretation of data, in the writing of the report, and/or the decision to submit the article for publication.

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© 2023 The Authors

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