The costimulatory CD40L–CD40 dyad plays a major role in multiple sclerosis (MS). CD40 is highly expressed on MHCII + B cells, dendritic cells and macrophages in human MS lesions. Here we investigated the role of the CD40 downstream signaling intermediates TNF receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and TRAF6 in MHCII + cells in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Both MHCII–CD40–Traf2 −/− and MHCII–CD40–Traf6 −/− mice showed a reduction in clinical signs of EAE and prevented demyelination. However, only MHCII–CD40–Traf6 −/− mice displayed a decrease in myeloid and lymphoid cell infiltration into the CNS that was accompanied by reduced levels of TNF-α, IL-6 and IFN-γ. As CD40–TRAF6 interactions predominantly occur in macrophages, we subjected CD40 flfl LysM cre mice to EAE. This myeloid-specific deletion of CD40 resulted in a significant reduction in EAE severity, reduced CNS inflammation and demyelination. In conclusion, the CD40–TRAF6 signaling pathway in MHCII + cells plays a key role in neuroinflammation and demyelination during EAE. Concomitant with the fact that CD40–TRAF6 interactions are predominant in macrophages, depletion of myeloid CD40 also reduces neuroinflammation. CD40–TRAF6 interactions thus represent a promising therapeutic target for MS. © 2018 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
- TNF receptor-associated peptides and proteins
- experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
- multiple sclerosis