Tissue Transglutaminase contributes to experimental multiple sclerosis pathogenesis and clinical outcome by promoting macrophage migration

Miriam E van Strien, Helga E de Vries, Navina L Chrobok, John G J M Bol, John J P Breve, Susanne M P van der Pol, Gijs Kooij, Jaap D van Buul, Marcela Karpuj, Lawrence Steinman, Micha M Wilhelmus, Claudia Sestito, Benjamin Drukarch, Anne-Marie Van Dam

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple sclerosis is a serious neurological disorder, resulting in e.g., sensory, motor and cognitive deficits. A critical pathological aspect of multiple sclerosis (MS) is the influx of immunomodulatory cells into the central nervous system (CNS). Identification of key players that regulate cellular trafficking into the CNS may lead to the development of more selective treatment to halt this process. The multifunctional enzyme tissue Transglutaminase (TG2) can participate in various inflammation-related processes, and is known to be expressed in the CNS. In the present study, we question whether TG2 activity contributes to the pathogenesis of experimental MS, and could be a novel therapeutic target. In human post-mortem material, we showed the appearance of TG2 immunoreactivity in leukocytes in MS lesions, and particular in macrophages in rat chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (cr-EAE), an experimental MS model. Clinical deficits as observed in mouse EAE were reduced in TG2 knock-out mice compared to littermate wild-type mice, supporting a role of TG2 in EAE pathogenesis. To establish if the enzyme TG2 represents an attractive therapeutic target, cr-EAE rats were treated with TG2 activity inhibitors during ongoing disease. Reduction of TG2 activity in cr-EAE animals dramatically attenuated clinical deficits and demyelination. The mechanism underlying these beneficial effects pointed toward a reduction in macrophage migration into the CNS due to attenuated cytoskeletal flexibility and RhoA GTPase activity. Moreover, iNOS and TNFα levels were selectively reduced in the CNS of cr-EAE rats treated with a TG2 activity inhibitor, whereas other relevant inflammatory mediators were not affected in CNS or spleen by reducing TG2 activity. We conclude that modulating TG2 activity opens new avenues for therapeutic intervention in MS which does not affect peripheral levels of inflammatory mediators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Behavior and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Isoxazoles
  • Journal Article
  • Macrophages
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Myelin Sheath
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rats
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Spinal Cord
  • Spleen
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Transglutaminases

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