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The search for the target antigens of multiple sclerosis, part 1: autoreactive CD4+ T lymphocytes as pathogenic effectors and therapeutic targets

Reinhard Hohlfeld, Klaus Dornmair, Edgar Meinl, Hartmut Wekerle

The Lancet Neurology, Volume 15, Issue 2, February 2016, Pages 198–209 

Summary

Identification of the target antigens of pathogenic antibodies and T cells is of fundamental importance for understanding the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, and for the development of personalised treatments for the disease. Myelin-specific CD4+ T cells emerged long ago as a key player in animal models of multiple sclerosis. Taking a forward-translational approach, autoreactive CD4+ T cells have been studied extensively in patients with multiple sclerosis, and there is evidence, but as yet no direct proof, that autoreactive CD4+ T cells are a key player in the pathogenesis of the disorder. Several therapies that selectively target myelin-specific CD4+ T cells have been investigated in clinical trials up to phase 3. So far, however, none of these (mostly underpowered) therapeutic trials have provided definitive evidence of clinical efficacy. One major obstacle to personalised, highly selective immunotherapy is the absence of standardised and reliable assays to assess antigen-specific human T-cell responses. Such assays would be essential for stratification of patients with multiple sclerosis according to their individual target antigens.


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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

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