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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) where immunopathology is thought to be mediated by myelin-reactive CD4+ T helper (TH) cells. The TH cells most commonly implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease are of TH1 and TH17 lineage, which are defined by the production of interferon-γ and interleukin-17, respectively. Moreover, there is emerging evidence for the involvement of TH17.1 cells, which share the hallmarks of TH1 and TH17 subsets. In this review, we summarise current knowledge about the potential role of TH17 subsets in the initiation and progression of the disease and put a focus on their response to approved immunomodulatory MS drugs. In this regard, TH17 cells are abundant in peripheral blood, cerebrospinal fluid and brain lesions of MS patients, and their counts and inflammatory mediators are further increased during relapses. Fingolimod and alemtuzumab induce a paramount decrease in central memory T cells, which harbour the majority of peripheral TH17 cells, while the efficacy of natalizumab, dimethyl fumarate and importantly hematopoietic stem cell therapy correlates with TH17.1 cell inhibition. Interestingly, also CD20 antibodies target highly inflammatory TH cells and hamper TH17 differentiation by IL-6 reductions. Moreover, recovery rates of TH cells best correlate with long-term efficacy after therapeutical immunodepletion. We conclude that central memory TH17.1 cells play a pivotal role in MS pathogenesis and they represent a major target of MS therapeutics. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Tobias Moser, Katja Akgün, Undine Proschmann, Johann Sellner, Tjalf Ziemssen. The role of TH17 cells in multiple sclerosis: Therapeutic implications. Autoimmunity reviews. 2020 Oct;19(10):102647

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PMID: 32801039

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