The Journal of Immunology
Activated protein C (PC) is an anticoagulant involved in the interactions between the coagulation and immune systems. Activated PC has broad anti-inflammatory effects that are mediated through its ability to modulate leukocyte function and confer vascular barrier protection. We investigated the influence of activated PC on the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model for multiple sclerosis. We modulated activated PC levels in the circulation during EAE induction through systemic administration of a mAb against PC/activated PC (anti-PC). We initially hypothesized that inhibition of activated PC may result in a heightened inflammatory environment, leading to increased EAE pathogenesis. Contrary to this hypothesis, mice treated with anti-PC Ab (anti-PC mice) exhibited attenuated EAE. Interestingly, despite reduced disease severity and minimal pathogenic conditions in the CNS, anti-PC mice exhibited considerable leukocyte infiltration in the brain, comparable to control mice with severe EAE. Furthermore, CD4(+) T cells were diminished in the periphery of anti-PC mice, whereas various CD11b(+) populations were increased, notably the myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), a CD11b(+) subset characterized as potent T cell suppressors. MDSCs from anti-PC mice exhibited increased expression of T cell suppressive factors and effectively inhibited T cell proliferation. Overall, our findings show that activated PC inhibition affected EAE pathogenesis at multiple fronts, specifically increasing vascular barrier permeability, as evidenced by considerable leukocyte infiltration in the brain. Additionally, inhibition of activated PC modulated the functional responses of CD11b(+) cells, leading to the expansion and increased activation of MDSCs, which are suppressive to the CD4(+) T cells required for EAE progression, thereby resulting in attenuated EAE.