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CD40 Drives Central Nervous System Autoimmune Disease by Inducing Complementary Effector Programs via B Cells and Dendritic Cells

Lu, Y;Xu, M;Dorrier, CE;Zhang, R;Mayer, CT;Wagner, D;McGavern, DB;Hodes, RJ;

Costimulatory CD40 plays an essential role in autoimmune diseases, including experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model of human multiple sclerosis (MS). However, how CD40 drives autoimmune disease pathogenesis is not well defined. Here, we used a conditional knockout approach to determine how CD40 orchestrates a CNS autoimmune disease induced by recombinant human myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (rhMOG). We found that deletion of CD40 in either dendritic cells (DCs) or B cells profoundly reduced EAE disease pathogenesis. Mechanistically, CD40 expression on DCs was required for priming pathogenic Th cells in peripheral draining lymph nodes and promoting their appearance in the CNS. By contrast, B cell CD40 was essential for class-switched MOG-specific Ab production, which played a crucial role in disease pathogenesis. In fact, passive transfer of MOG-immune serum or IgG into mice lacking CD40 on B cells but not DCs reconstituted autoimmune disease, which was associated with inundation of the spinal cord parenchyma by Ig and complement. These data demonstrate that CD40 supports distinct effector programs in B cells and DCs that converge to drive a CNS autoimmune disease and identify targets for intervention.