Interaction between gonadal steroids and neuroimmune system in acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Wistar rats.
ABSTRACT Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is an inflammatory disease of the CNS mediated by autoreactive T lymphocytes directed against myelin antigens. Since neuroendocrine-immune dysfunction appears to contribute to the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, the present work was designed to study the effect of changes in the endocrine system on the development of acute EAE and the immune response against myelin basic protein (MBP). Intact and sham males and intact female Wistar rats showed the most severe clinical symptoms (acute period) 12-14 days post-inoculation (dpi). Then, they began gradually to recover, regaining the total ability to walk by 15-17 dpi. Male Wistar rats with altered levels of gonadal hormones by surgical castration showed an onset of the symptoms retarded 2-3 days with respect to the other EAE groups, showing neuropathological symptoms up to 27-28 dpi, and remaining with lower body weight even at 40 dpi. The castrated animals exhibited a specific delay in MBP-stimulated DTH reactivity that correlates with the delay in the onset of the clinical symptoms. Also significant lymphocyte proliferation to MBP was still present at 35 dpi that was absent in the sham group. The distribution of the IgG subclasses indicated that at 35 dpi castrated animals have a higher IgG2b/IgG1 ratio (35.1) in comparison to that presented by sham rats (4.8). Considering that at this time the castrated animals were not completely recuperated, these results could indicate an ongoing inflammatory immune response associated with Th1 activity in these animals. Also castrated animals developed antibodies to a diversity of MBP epitopes in comparison to sham rats, which presented a dominance of antibodies to MBP peptide p96-128. These results indicate that sex hormones levels regulate cell-mediated immunity and the specificity of anti-MBP antibodies related to the induction and development of acute EAE.