P-Glycoprotein Acts as an Immunomodulator during Neuroinflammation

G. Kooij, R. Backer, J.J. Koning, A Reijerkerk, J. van Horssen, S.M.A. van der Pol, J. Drexhage, A. Schinkel, C.D. Dijkstra, J.M.M. den Haan, T.B.H. Geijtenbeek, H.E. de Vries

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in which autoreactive myelin-specific T cells cause extensive tissue damage, resulting in neurological deficits. In the disease process, T cells are primed in the periphery by antigen presenting dendritic cells (DCs). DCs are considered to be crucial regulators of specific immune responses and molecules or proteins that regulate DC function are therefore under extensive investigation. We here investigated the potential immunomodulatory capacity of the ATP binding cassette transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp). P-gp generally drives cellular efflux of a variety of compounds and is thought to be involved in excretion of inflammatory agents from immune cells, like DCs. So far, the immunomodulatory role of these ABC transporters is unknown. Methods and Findings: Here we demonstrate that P-gp acts as a key modulator of adaptive immunity during an in vivo model for neuroinflammation. The function of the DC is severely impaired in P-gp knockout mice (Mdr1a/1b-/-), since both DC maturation and T cell stimulatory capacity is significantly decreased. Consequently, Mdr1a/1b-/- mice develop decreased clinical signs of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Reduced clinical signs coincided with impaired T cell responses and T cell-specific brain inflammation. We here describe the underlying molecular mechanism and demonstrate that P-gp is crucial for the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. Importantly, the defect in DC function can be restored by exogenous addition of these cytokines. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that P-gp downmodulates DC function through the regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion, resulting in an impaired immune response. Taken together, our work highlights a new physiological role for P-gp as an immunomodulatory molecule and reveals a possible new target for immunotherapy
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8212
Pages (from-to)e8212
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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