Tertiary Lymphoid Organs in Central Nervous System Autoimmunity.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS), which results in permanent neuronal damage and substantial disability in patients. Autoreactive T cells are important drivers of the disease; however, the efficacy of B cell depleting therapies uncovered an essential role for B cells in disease pathogenesis. They can contribute to inflammatory processes via presentation of autoantigen, secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and production of pathogenic antibodies. Recently, B cell aggregates reminiscent of tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) were discovered in the meninges of MS patients, leading to the hypothesis that differentiation and maturation of autopathogenic B and T cells may partly occur inside the CNS. Since these structures were associated with a more severe disease course, it is extremely important to gain insight into the mechanism of induction, their precise function, and clinical significance. Mechanistic studies in patients are limited. However, a few studies in the MS animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) recapitulate TLO formation in the CNS and provide new insight into CNS TLO features, formation, and function. This review summarizes what we know so far about CNS TLOs in MS and what we have learned about them from EAE models. It also highlights the areas that are in need of further experimental work, as we are just beginning to understand and evaluate the phenomenon of CNS TLOs.
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