The Journal of Immunology
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the CNS, and CD8 T cells are the predominant T cell population in MS lesions. Given that transfer of CNS-specific CD8 T cells results in an attenuated clinical demyelinating disease in C57BL/6 mice with immunization-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we investigated the cellular targets and mechanisms of autoreactive regulatory CD8 T cells. In this study we report that myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide (MOG35-55)-induced CD8 T cells could also attenuate adoptively transferred, CD4 T cell-mediated EAE. Whereas CD8(-/-) mice exhibited more severe EAE associated with increased autoreactivity and inflammatory cytokine production by myelin-specific CD4 T cells, this was reversed by adoptive transfer of MOG-specific CD8 T cells. These autoregulatory CD8 T cells required in vivo MHC class Ia (K(b)D(b)) presentation. Interestingly, MOG-specific CD8 T cells could also suppress adoptively induced disease using wild-type MOG35-55-specific CD4 T cells transferred into K(b)D(b-/-) recipient mice, suggesting direct targeting of encephalitogenic CD4 T cells. In vivo trafficking analysis revealed that autoregulatory CD8 T cells are dependent on neuroinflammation for CNS infiltration, and their suppression/cytotoxicity of MOG-specific CD4 T cells is observed both in the periphery and in the CNS. These studies provide important insights into the mechanism of disease suppression mediated by autoreactive CD8 T cells in EAE.