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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The Th2 cytokine IL-4 is not required for the progression of antibody-dependent autoimmune myasthenia gravis.

Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG), a disorder of the neuromuscular junction, is mediated by autoantibodies against muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR). The roles of IFN-gamma (Th1) and IL-4 (Th2) cytokines in the initiation and progression of this disease are not fully understood. Recently, we have demonstrated that IFN-gamma is necessary for the initiation of tAChR-induced EAMG in mice. However, the role of IL-4 in the progression of clinical EAMG remained undetermined. In this study we have addressed the contribution of IL-4 in the disease progression in IL-4(-/-) C57BL/6j mice whose IL-4 gene has been disrupted. Following immunization with Torpedo ( t) AChR, the IL-4(-/-) mice readily developed signs of muscle weakness and succumbed to clinical EAMG with kinetics similar to the susceptibility of IL-4(+/+) mice. The tAChR-primed lymph node cells from IL-4(-/-) mice vigorously proliferated to tAChR and to its dominant alpha146-162 sequence associated with disease pathogenesis. However, these T cells secreted higher levels of IFN-gamma and IL-2, suggesting the development of a Th1 default pathway in these mice. Nevertheless, the IL-4 mutation had no effect on the recruitment of CD4+ Vbeta6+ T cells specific to the dominant tAChR alpha146-162 sequence in vivo. Immune sera from IL-4(-/-) mice showed a dramatic increase in mouse AChR-specific IgG2a levels followed by a concomitant decrease in IgG1 levels, but these mice did not exhibit an accelerated disease. In conclusion, we have demonstrated for the first time that IL-4 is not required either for the generation of a pathogenic anti-AChR humoral immune response or for progression of clinical EAMG in mice.[1]


  1. The Th2 cytokine IL-4 is not required for the progression of antibody-dependent autoimmune myasthenia gravis. Balasa, B., Deng, C., Lee, J., Christadoss, P., Sarvetnick, N. J. Immunol. (1998) [Pubmed]
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