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Endoplasmic reticulum stress response in immune cells contributes to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis pathogenesis in rats.

Immunology Letters 2024 March 26
We examined the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the ensuing unfolded protein response (UPR) in the development of the central nervous system (CNS)-directed immune response in the rat model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The induction of EAE with syngeneic spinal cord homogenate in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) caused a time-dependent increase in the expression of ER stress/UPR markers glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP1), C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), and phosphorylated eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) in the draining lymph nodes of both EAE-susceptible Dark Agouti (DA) and EAE-resistant Albino Oxford (AO) rats. However, the increase in ER stress markers was more pronounced in AO rats. CFA alone also induced ER stress, but the effect was weaker and less sustained compared to full immunization. The ultrastructural analysis of DA lymph node tissue by electron microscopy revealed ER dilatation in lymphocytes, macrophages, and plasma cells, while immunoblot analysis of CD3-sorted lymph node cells demonstrated the increase in ER stress/UPR markers in both CD3+ (T cell) and CD3- (non-T) cell compartments. A positive correlation was observed between the levels of ER stress/UPR markers in the CNS-infiltrated mononuclear cells and the clinical activity of the disease. Finally, the reduction of EAE clinical signs by ER stress inhibitor ursodeoxycholic acid was associated with the decrease in the expression of mRNA encoding pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-1β, and encephalitogenic T cell cytokines IFN-γ and IL-17. Collectively, our data indicate that ER stress response in immune cells might be an important pathogenetic factor and a valid therapeutic target in the inflammatory damage of the CNS.

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