Astrocytes lure CXCR2-expressing CD4+ T cells to gray matter via TAK1-mediated chemokine production in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis

Yee Ming Khaw, Abbey Tierney, Claire Cunningham, Katiria Soto-Díaz, Eunjoo Kang, Andrew J. Steelman, Makoto Inoue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease of the central nervous system driven by peripheral immune cell infiltration and glial activation. The pathological hallmark of MS is demyelination, and mounting evidence suggests neuronal damage in gray matter is a major contributor to disease irreversibility. While T cells are found in both gray and white matter of MS tissue, they are typically confined to the white matter of the most commonly used mouse model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Here, we used a modified EAE mouse model (Type-B EAE) that displays severe neuronal damage to investigate the interplay between peripheral immune cells and glial cells in the event of neuronal damage. We show that CD4+ T cells migrate to the spinal cord gray matter, preferentially to ventral horns. Compared to CD4+ T cells in white matter, gray matter-infiltrated CD4+ T cells were mostly immobilized and interacted with neurons, which are behaviors associated with detrimental effects to normal neuronal function. T cell-specific deletion of CXCR2 significantly decreased CD4+ T cell infiltration into gray matter in Type-B EAE mice. Further, astrocyte-targeted deletion of TAK1 inhibited production of CXCR2 ligands such as CXCL1 in gray matter, successfully prevented T cell migration into spinal cord gray matter, and averted neuronal damage and motor dysfunction in Type-B EAE mice. This study identifies astrocyte chemokine production as a requisite for the invasion of CD4+T cell into the gray matter to induce neuronal damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2017213118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021


  • Astrocyte
  • Dendritic spine loss
  • Gray matter
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • T cell migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Astrocytes lure CXCR2-expressing CD4+ T cells to gray matter via TAK1-mediated chemokine production in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this