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Serum exosomes in pregnancy-associated immune modulation and neuroprotection during CNS autoimmunity

Williams, JL;Gatson, NN;Smith, KM;Almad, A;McTigue, DM;Whitacre, CC;

In multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), relapses are markedly reduced during pregnancy. Exosomes are lipid-bound vesicles and are more abundant in the serum during pregnancy. Using murine EAE, we demonstrate that serum exosomes suppress T cell activation, promote the maturation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC), and pregnancy exosomes facilitate OPC migration into active CNS lesions. However, exosomes derived from both pregnant and non-pregnant mice reduced the severity of established EAE. Thus, during pregnancy, serum exosomes modulate the immune and central nervous systems and contribute to pregnancy-associated suppression of EAE.