Using a non-human primate model of the autoimmune neuroinflammatory disease multiple sclerosis (MS), we have unraveled the role of B cells in the making and breaking of immune tolerance against central nervous system myelin. It is discussed here that B cells prevent the activation of strongly pathogenic T cells present in the naïve repertoire, which are directed against the immunodominant myelin antigen MOG (myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein). Prevention occurs via destructive processing of a critical epitope (MOG34-56) through the lysosomal serine protease cathepsin G. This effective tolerance mechanism is abrogated when the B cells are infected with Epstein–Barr virus, a ubiquitous γ1-herpesvirus that entails the strongest non-genetic risk factor for MS.
- Antigen presentation
- B cells