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      Potential Therapeutic Benefit of C1-Esterase Inhibitor in Neuromyelitis Optica Evaluated In Vitro and in an Experimental Rat Model

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          Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in which binding of anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4) autoantibodies (NMO-IgG) to astrocytes causes complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) and inflammation resulting in oligodendrocyte and neuronal injury. There is compelling evidence for a central role of complement in NMO pathogenesis. Here, we evaluated the potential of C1-esterase inhibitor (C1-inh) for complement-targeted therapy of NMO. C1-inh is an anti-inflammatory plasma protein with serine protease inhibition activity that has a broad range of biological activities on the contact (kallikrein), coagulation, fibrinolytic and complement systems. C1-inh is approved for therapy of hereditary angioedema (HAE) and has been studied in a small safety trial in acute NMO relapses (NCT 01759602). In vitro assays of NMO-IgG-dependent CDC showed C1-inh inhibition of human and rat complement, but with predicted minimal complement inhibition activity at a dose of 2000 units in humans. Inhibition of complement by C1-inh was potentiated by ∼10-fold by polysulfated macromolecules including heparin and dextran sulfate. In rats, intravenous C1-inh at a dose 30-fold greater than that approved to treat HAE inhibited serum complement activity by <5%, even when supplemented with heparin. Also, high-dose C1-inh did not reduce pathology in a rat model of NMO produced by intracerebral injection of NMO-IgG. Therefore, although C1r and C1s are targets of C1-inh, our in vitro data with human serum and in vivo data in rats suggest that the complement inhibition activity of C1-inh in serum is too low to confer clinical benefit in NMO.

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          Intra-cerebral injection of neuromyelitis optica immunoglobulin G and human complement produces neuromyelitis optica lesions in mice.

          Neuromyelitis optica is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system associated with autoantibodies against the glial water channel protein aquaporin-4. It has recently been reported that immunoglobulin from neuromyelitis optica patients injected peripherally does not cause lesions in naive rats, but only when pre-existing central nervous system inflammation is present. Here, we investigated whether immunoglobulin G from aquaporin-4-autoantibody-positive neuromyelitis optica patients has the potential to damage the central nervous system either alone or in the presence of human complement. Immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients did not activate mouse complement and was not pathogenic when injected into mouse brain. However, co-injection of immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement produced neuromyelitis optica-like lesions in mice. Within 12 h of co-injecting immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients and human complement, there was a striking loss of aquaporin-4 expression, glial cell oedema, myelin breakdown and axonal injury, but little intra-parenchymal inflammation. At 7 days, there was extensive inflammatory cell infiltration, perivascular deposition of activated complement components, extensive demyelination, loss of aquaporin-4 expression, loss of reactive astrocytes and neuronal cell death. In behavioural studies, mice injected with immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients and human complement into the right hemisphere preferentially turned to the right at 7 days. No brain inflammation, demyelination or right-turning behaviour was seen in wild-type mice that received immunoglobulin G from non-neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement, or in aquaporin-4-null mice that received immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement. We conclude that co-injection of immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients with human complement reproduces the key histological features of neuromyelitis optica and that aquaporin-4 is necessary and sufficient for immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients to exert its effect. In our mouse model, immunoglobulin G from neuromyelitis optica patients does not require pre-existing central nervous system inflammation to produce lesions.
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            Pathogenic potential of IgG binding to water channel extracellular domain in neuromyelitis optica.

            Autoantibody specific for the aquaporin-4 astrocytic water channel is restricted to serum and CSF of patients with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and related CNS inflammatory demyelinating disorders (relapsing optic neuritis and longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis). NMO-typical lesions are distinct from MS-typical lesions. Aquaporin-4 is lost selectively at vasculocentric sites of edema/inflammation coinciding with focal deposits of immunoglobulins (Ig) G, M, and terminal complement products, with and without myelin loss. Evidence for antigen-specific autoantibody pathogenicity is lacking. We used confocal microscopy and flow cytometry to evaluate the selectivity and immunopathological consequences of Ig binding to surface epitopes of living target cells expressing aquaporin-4 fused at its cytoplasmic N-terminus with GFP. We tested serum, IgG-enriched and IgG-depleted serum fractions, and CSF from patients with NMO, neurologic control patients, and healthy subjects. We also analyzed aquaporin-4 immunoreactivity in myelinated adult mouse optic nerves and spinal cord, and plasma cell Ig isotypes in archived brain tissue from an NMO patient. Serum IgG from patients with NMO binds to the extracellular domain of aquaporin-4; it is predominantly IgG(1), and it initiates two potentially competing outcomes, aquaporin-4 endocytosis/degradation and complement activation. Serum and CSF lack aquaporin-4-specific IgM, and plasma cells in CNS lesions of NMO contain only IgG. Paranodal astrocytic endfeet highly express aquaporin-4. NMO patients' serum IgG has a selective pathologic effect on cell membranes expressing aquaporin-4. IgG targeting astrocytic processes around nodes of Ranvier could initiate demyelination.
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              Mechanisms of disease: aquaporin-4 antibodies in neuromyelitis optica.

              Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a rare CNS inflammatory disorder that predominantly affects the optic nerves and spinal cord. Recent serological findings strongly suggest that NMO is a distinct disease rather than a subtype of multiple sclerosis. In NMO, serum antibodies, collectively known as NMO-IgG, characteristically bind to cerebral microvessels, pia mater and Virchow-Robin spaces. The main target antigen for this immunoreactivity has been identified as aquaporin-4 (AQP4). The antibodies are highly specific for NMO, and they are also found in patients with longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis without optic neuritis, which is thought to be a precursor to NMO in some cases. An antibody-mediated pathogenesis for NMO is supported by several observations, including the characteristics of the AQP4 antibodies, the distinct NMO pathology--which includes IgG and complement deposition and loss of AQP4 from spinal cord lesions--and emerging evidence of the beneficial effects of B-cell depletion and plasma exchange. Many aspects of the pathogenesis, however, remain unclear.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                5 September 2014
                : 9
                : 9
                Departments of Medicine and Physiology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America
                Kyushu University, Japan
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: This work described in this manuscript was funded, in part, by a sponsored research agreement from a commercial source (CSL Behring). This does not alter the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: LT ASV. Performed the experiments: LT NA PP. Analyzed the data: LT NA PP. Contributed to the writing of the manuscript: LT NA PP ASV.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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                Pages: 8
                This work was supported by grants EY13574, DK35124, EB00415 and DK72517 from the National Institutes of Health, a grant from the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation, and a sponsored research agreement from CSL Behring (Kankakee, IL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Cell Biology
                Cellular Types
                Animal Cells
                Glial Cells
                Macroglial Cells
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Inflammatory Diseases
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Animal Studies
                Animal Models of Disease
                Bioassays and Physiological Analysis
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                The authors confirm that all data underlying the findings are fully available without restriction. All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.



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