B cells and monocytes from patients with active multiple sclerosis exhibit increased surface expression of both HERV-H Env and HERV-W Env, accompanied by increased seroreactivity
The etiology of the neurogenerative disease multiple sclerosis (MS) is unknown. The leading hypotheses suggest that MS is the result of exposure of genetically susceptible individuals to certain environmental factor(s).
Herpesviruses and human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) represent potentially important factors in MS development. Herpesviruses can activate HERVs, and HERVs are activated in MS patients.
Results: Using flow cytometry, we have analyzed HERV-H Env and HERV-W Env epitope expression on the surface of PBMCs from MS patients with active and stable disease, and from control individuals.
We have also analyzed serum antibody levels to the expressed HERV-H and HERV-W Env epitopes. We found a significantly higher expression of HERV-H and HERV-W Env epitopes on B cells and monocytes from patients with active MS compared with patients with stable MS or control individuals.
Furthermore, patients with active disease had relatively higher numbers of B cells in the PBMC population, and higher antibody reactivities towards HERV-H Env and HERV-W Env epitopes. The higher antibody reactivities in sera from patients with active MS correlate with the higher levels of HERV-H Env and HERV-W Env expression on B cells and monocytes.
We did not find such correlations for stable MS patients or for controls.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that both HERV-H Env and HERV-W Env are expressed in higher quantities on the surface of B cells and monocytes in patients with active MS, and that the expression of these proteins may be associated with exacerbation of the disease.
Published on: 2009-11-16