Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a primary astrocyte disease associated with central nervous system inflammation, demyelination, and tissue injury. Brain lesions are frequently observed in regions enriched in expression of the aquaporin-4 (AQP4) water channel, an antigenic target of the NMO IgG serologic marker. Based on observations of disease reversibility and careful characterization of NMO lesion development, we propose that the NMO IgG may induce a dynamic immunological response in astrocytes. Using primary rat astrocyte-enriched cultures and treatment with NMO patient-derived serum or purified IgG, we observed a robust pattern of gene expression changes consistent with the induction of a reactive and inflammatory phenotype in astrocytes. The reactive astrocyte factor lipocalin-2 and a broad spectrum of chemokines, cytokines, and stress response factors were induced by either NMO patient serum or purified IgG. Treatment with IgG from healthy controls had no effect. The effect is disease-specific, as serum from patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, Sjögren's, or systemic lupus erythematosus did not induce a response in the cultures. We hypothesize that binding of the NMO IgG to AQP4 induces a cellular response that results in transcriptional and translational events within the astrocyte that are consistent with a reactive and inflammatory phenotype. Strategies aimed at reducing the inflammatory response of astrocytes may short circuit an amplification loop associated with NMO lesion development.
- Innate immunity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience