Immunology of neuromyelitis optica: A T cell-B cell collaboration

Meike Mitsdoerffer, Vijay Kuchroo, Thomas Korn

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67 Scopus citations


Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a debilitating autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that is distinct from multiple sclerosis (MS). The discovery of NMO-immunoglobulin G (IgG) in the serum of NMO-but not MS-patients was a breakthrough in defining diagnostic criteria for NMO. NMO-IgG is an antibody directed against the astrocytic water channel protein aquaporin-4 (AQP4). While there is evidence that NMO-IgG is also involved in mediating tissue damage in the CNS, many aspects of the pathogenic cascade in NMO remain to be determined. It is clear that antigen-specific T cells contribute to the generation of NMO-IgG in the peripheral immune compartment, as well as to the development of NMO lesions in the CNS. T helper 17 (Th17) cells, equipped both in providing B cell help and inducing tissue inflammation, may be involved in NMO development and pathogenesis. Here, we review immunologic aspects of NMO, placing recent findings in the biology of T-B cell cooperation into perspective with autoimmunity of the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CNS
  • Inflammation
  • Neuromyelitis optica


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