Autoimmune responses directed against the central nervous system (CNS) have generally been considered pathogenic in nature. Although there are several well understood conditions in which this is the case, there is also a growing body of experimental evidence to show that both the cellular and humoral immune responses can promote tissue repair following CNS injury and disease. Our laboratory has used a mouse model of chronic demyelinating disease to characterize a class of polyreactive IgM autoantibodies that react with oligodendrocyte surface antigens and promote myelin repair. By screening a large number of human monoclonal antibodies, we have found that IgM antibodies that react with CNS tissue are relatively common. Autoreactive IgM antibodies might constitute an endogenous system for tissue repair, and therefore these antibodies could be of value as therapeutic reagents.
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