The CD8 T Cell in Multiple Sclerosis: Suppressor Cell Or Mediator of Neuropathology?

Aaron J. Johnson, Georgette L. Suidan, Jeremiah McDole, Istvan Pirko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

45 Scopus citations


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common human demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. It is universally accepted that the immune system plays a major role in the pathogenesis of MS. For decades, CD4 T cells have been considered the predominant mediator of neuropathology in MS. This perception was largely due to the similarity between MS and CD4 T-cell-driven experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, the most commonly studied murine model of MS. Over the last decade, several new observations in MS research imply an emerging role for CD8 T cells in neuropathogenesis. In certain experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models, CD8 T cells are considered suppressors of pathology, whereas in other EAE models, neuropathology can be exacerbated by adoptive transfer of CD8 T cells. Studies using the Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) model have demonstrated preservation of motor function and axonal integrity in animals deficient in CD8 T cells or their effector molecules. CD8 T cells have also been demonstrated to be important regulators of blood-brain barrier permeability. There is also an emerging role for CD8 T cells in human MS. Human genetic studies reveal an important role for HLA class I molecules in MS susceptibility. In addition, neuropathologic studies demonstrate that CD8 T cells are the most numerous inflammatory infiltrate in MS lesions at all stages of lesion development. CD8 T cells are also capable of damaging neurons and axons in vitro. In this chapter, we discuss the neuropathologic, genetic, and experimental evidence for a critical role of CD8 T cells in the pathogenesis of MS and its most frequently studied animal models. We also highlight important new avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Neurobiology of Multiple Sclerosis
EditorsAlireza Minagar
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The CD8 T Cell in Multiple Sclerosis: Suppressor Cell Or Mediator of Neuropathology?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this