HLA class II molecules (HLA-DR, -DP, -DQ) on cells in the human CNS studied in situ and in vitro.Immunology. 1994 Aug; 82(4):535-41.I
Human leucocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules expressed by antigen-presenting cells (APC) are major restriction elements in the interaction between APC and T cells of the CD4+ subtype. To explore the immune accessory function of cells in the central nervous system (CNS), we studied the expression of HLA-DR, -DP, and -DQ molecules on CNS cells in situ and in vitro. Reactive microglia and perivascular cells in multiple sclerosis lesions expressed all three HLA class II molecules, whereas microglia in the normal CNS expressed HLA-DR only. All three HLA class II molecules were up-regulated on cultured microglia after stimulation with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Microglial stimulation of allogeneic CD4+ T cells in a mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) was effectively blocked using anti-HLA-DR monoclonal antibodies (mAb) but not using anti-HLA-DQ mAb. HLA class II-positive astrocytes and endothelial cells were not identified in normal or diseased CNS. Cultured astrocytes stimulated with IFN-gamma could, however, be induced to express HLA class II antigens of all subtypes, although great variability was observed between different donors. Our results indicate that although both microglia and astrocytes are capable of expressing all HLA class II subtypes in vitro, subtype expression differs between normal and pathological states in situ. Such selective expression may be associated with functional properties.