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Keywords:

  • experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • oestrogen and receptors;
  • programmed death-1/programmed death ligand;
  • regulatory B cells

Summary

It is now well accepted that sex hormones have immunoregulatory activity and may prevent exacerbations in multiple sclerosis during pregnancy. Our previous studies demonstrated that oestrogen (17β-oestradiol; E2) protection against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is mediated mainly through oestrogen receptor-α (ERα) and the membrane receptor G-protein-coupled receptor 30 (GPR30) and is abrogated in the absence of B cells and the co-inhibitory receptor, Programmed Death-1 (PD-1). To critically evaluate the cell source of the E2 and PD-1 co-inhibitory pathways in EAE regulation, we assessed the requirement for ERs on transferred B cells and downstream effects on expression of PD-1/PD-ligand on CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells in B-cell-replenished, E2-treated B-cell-deficient (μMT−/−) mice with EAE. The results clearly demonstrated involvement of ERα and GPR30 on transferred B cells that mediated the protective E2 treatment effect on EAE and further showed an E2-mediated B-cell-dependent up-regulation of PD-1 on CD4+ Foxp3+ Treg cells. These findings identify regulatory B-cell populations as key players in potentiating Treg-cell activity during E2-mediated protection against EAE.