Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune neuroinflammatory disease where the underlying mechanisms driving disease progression have remained unresolved. HLA-DR2b (DRB1*15:01) is the most common genetic risk factor for MS. Additionally, TNF and its receptors TNFR1 and TNFR2 play key roles in MS and its preclinical animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). TNFR2 is believed to ameliorate CNS pathology by promoting remyelination and Treg function. Here, we show that transgenic mice expressing the human MHC class II (MHC-II) allele HLA-DR2b and lacking mouse MHC-II and TNFR2 molecules, herein called DR2bΔR2, developed progressive EAE, while disease was not progressive in DR2b littermates. Mechanistically, expression of the HLA-DR2b favored Th17 cell development, whereas T cell–independent TNFR2 expression was critical for restraining of an astrogliosis-induced proinflammatory milieu and Th17 cell responses, while promoting remyelination. Our data suggest the TNFR2 signaling pathway as a potentially novel mechanism for curtailing astrogliosis and promoting remyelination, thus providing new insights into mechanisms limiting progressive MS.
Itay Raphael, Francisco Gomez-Rivera, Rebecca A. Raphael, Rachel R. Robinson, Saisha Nalawade, Thomas G. Forsthuber