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Gene Expression Profilling of Multiple Sclerosis Pathology Identifies Early Patterns of Demyelination Surrounding Chronic Active Lesions

Research group Huitinga
Publication year 2017
Published in Frontiers in Immunology
Authors Debbie A E Hendrickx, Jackelien van Scheppingen, Marlijn van der Poel, K. Bossers, K.G. Schuurman, C.G. van Eden, E.M. Hol, Jörg Hamann, I. Huitinga

In multiple sclerosis (MS), activated microglia and infiltrating macrophages phagocytose myelin focally in (chronic) active lesions. These demyelinating sites expand in time, but at some point turn inactive into a sclerotic scar. To identify molecular mechanisms underlying lesion activity and halt, we analyzed genome-wide gene expression in rim and peri-lesional regions of chronic active and inactive MS lesions, as well as in control tissue. Gene clustering revealed patterns of gene expression specifically associated with MS and with the presumed, subsequent stages of lesion development. Next to genes involved in immune functions, we found regulation of novel genes in and around the rim of chronic active lesions, such as NPY, KANK4, NCAN, TKTL1, and ANO4. Of note, the presence of many foamy macrophages in active rims was accompanied by a
congruent upregulation of genes related to lipid binding, such as MSR1, CD68, CXCL16, and OLR1, and lipid uptake, such as CHIT1, GPNMB, and CCL18. Except CCL18, these genes were already upregulated in regions around active MS lesions, showing that such lesions are indeed expanding. In vitro downregulation of the scavenger receptors MSR1 and CXCL16 reduced myelin uptake. In conclusion, this study provides the gene expression profile of different aspects of MS pathology and indicates that early demyelination, mediated by scavenger receptors, is already present in regions around active MS lesions. Genes involved in early demyelination events in regions surrounding chronic active MS lesions might be promising therapeutic targets to stop lesion expansion.

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