CD4 microglial expression correlates with spontaneous clinical improvement in the acute Lewis rat EAE model

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CD4 is a molecule commonly expressed on the surface of T-helper lymphocytes with a recognized critical role in the antigen presentation process that has also been reported in monocytes and macrophages, although its role in these cells remains unknown. The objective of the present study was to analyze whether experimental conditions involving a potent acquired immune component, as occurs in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), are able to induce CD4 expression in the population of microglia/macrophages. Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) immunized female Lewis rats, were examined at different phases during the course of EAE according to their clinical score. Spinal cords were analyzed by flow cytometry for CD11b, CD4 and CD45, by histochemistry for NDPase and by immunohistochemistry for ED2, Iba1, CD45 and CD4. Flow cytometry analysis showed that EAE induced CD4 expression in macrophages (CD11b+/CD45high) and microglia (in both CD11b+/CD45intermediate and CD11b+/CD45low phenotypes). Noticeably, microglial CD4 expression was found during the recovery phase and was maintained until 40 days post-induction. In agreement, immunolabelled sections revealed CD4 expression in microglial cells with ramified morphology during the recovery and post-recovery phases. In conclusion, our results indicate that, in this EAE model, perivascular cells, microglia and macrophages showed different dynamics during the course of the disease in close relation with symptomatology and that microglial cells expressed CD4 interestingly during the recovery phase, suggesting a role of microglial CD4 expression in the resolution of the immune response. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-80
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2009


  • CD45
  • Flow cytometry
  • Immune response
  • Macrophage
  • Perivascular cells


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