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Cystatin C Plays a Sex-Dependent Detrimental Role in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis

Hoghooghi, V;Palmer, AL;Frederick, A;Jiang, Y;Merkens, JE;Balakrishnan, A;Finlay, TM;Grubb, A;Levy, E;Gordon, P;Jirik, FR;Nguyen, MD;Schuurmans, C;Visser, F;Dunn, SE;Ousman, SS;

The cysteine protease inhibitor Cystatin C (CST3) is highly expressed in the brains of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and C57BL/6J mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE; a model of MS), but its roles in the diseases are unknown. Here, we show that CST3 plays a detrimental function in myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 (MOG35-55)-induced EAE but only in female animals. Female Cst3 null mice display significantly lower clinical signs of disease compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. This difference is associated with reduced interleukin-6 production and lower expression of key proteins (CD80, CD86, major histocompatibility complex [MHC] II, LC3A/B) involved in antigen processing, presentation, and co-stimulation in antigen-presenting cells (APCs). In contrast, male WT and Cst3-/- mice and cells show no differences in EAE signs or APC function. Further, the sex-dependent effect of CST3 in EAE is sensitive to gonadal hormones. Altogether, we have shown that CST3 has a sex-dependent role in MOG35-55-induced EAE.