The role of B cells in multiple sclerosis

Bernhard Hemmer, Markus C. Kowarik, Martin S. Weber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


B cells may have various roles in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), serving as a source of plasma cells that secrete autoreactive specific antibodies, but also as antigen-presenting cells for activation of encephalitogenic T cells. Data indicate that antibodies promote demyelination in MS and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of MS, while the role of B cells themselves in central nervous system (CNS) autoimmune disease is less clear. Like dendritic cells, B cells are professional antigen-presenting cells as defined by a constitutive expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and an antigen-specific B cell receptor (BCR, membrane-associated Immunoglobulin (Ig)). Compared to other antigen-presenting cell populations, antigen-specific B cells are very competent in presentation of protein antigen when their BCR recognizes the same antigen as the responding T cells. As processing and presentation of CNS protein antigen is required for initiation of CNS autoimmune disease (Slavin et al. 2001), B cells and, in particular, B cells specific for CNS autoantigen may have an important role as antigen-presenting cells for the activation of myelin-specific T cells in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultiple Sclerosis Immunology
Subtitle of host publicationA Foundation for Current and Future Treatments
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781461479536
ISBN (Print)1461479525, 9781461479529
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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