Neurology Research

Understanding how T and B cells in the brain relate to neurological diseases is key to more fully understanding the pathology and potential treatment of these diseases and disorders. The immunoSEQ® Assay has been used in neurodegenerative disease research including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, to identify and track disease-specific clones, compare immune repertoires between disease and non-disease states, and track clones longitudinally to understand how disease progresses over time.

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  • Neuro Blog
    T Cells in the Brain: Using Immunosequencing to Understand Their Role in Neurological Disorders

    Understanding if and how T and B cells in the brain relate to neurological diseases is key to more fully understanding the pathology and potential diagnosis and treatment of these diseases and disorders.

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    Neuroimmunology Drug Development

    Summit: Implementing Immune Repertoire Sequencing to Monitor Immunotherapy in Neurodegenerative Disease

    Presented by: Ned Sherry, MPH, Senior Manager, Research & Business Development, Adaptive Biotechnologies


Jelcic et al. Cell, 2018

Memory B cells Activate Brain-Homing, Autoreactive CD4+ T Cells in Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that is caused by the interplay of genetic, particularly the HLA-DR15 haplotype, and environmental risk factors. How these etiologic factors contribute to generating an autoreactive CD4+ T cell repertoire is not clear. Here, we demonstrate that self-reactivity, defined as "autoproliferation" of peripheral Th1 cells, is elevated in patients carrying the HLA-DR15 haplotype. Autoproliferation is mediated by memory B cells in a HLA-DR-dependent manner. Depletion of B cells in vitro and therapeutically in vivo by anti-CD20 effectively reduces T cell autoproliferation. T cell receptor deep sequencing showed that in vitro autoproliferating T cells are enriched for brain-homing T cells. Using an unbiased epitope discovery approach, we identified RASGRP2 as target autoantigen that is expressed in the brain and B cells. These findings will be instrumental to address important questions regarding pathogenic B-T cell interactions in multiple sclerosis and possibly also to develop novel therapies.


Dandekar et al. Front Immunol. 2016

Shared HLA CLass I and II Alleles and Clonally Restricted Public and Private Brain-Infiltrating αβ T Cells in a Cohort of Rasmussen Encephalitis Surgery Patients

Rasmussen encephalitis (RE) is a rare pediatric neuroinflammatory disease characterized by intractable seizures and unilateral brain atrophy. T cell infiltrates in affected brain tissue and the presence of circulating autoantibodies in some RE patients have indicated that RE may be an autoimmune disease. The strongest genetic links to autoimmunity reside in the MHC locus, therefore, we determined the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and class II alleles carried by a cohort of 24 RE surgery cases by targeted in-depth genomic sequencing. Compared with a reference population the allelic frequency of three alleles, DQA1*04:01:01, DQB1*04:02:01, and HLA-C*07:02:01:01 indicated that they might confer susceptibility to the disease. It has been reported that HLA-C*07:02 is a risk factor for Graves disease. Further, eight patients in the study cohort carried HLA-A*03:01:01:01, which has been linked to susceptibility to multiple sclerosis. Four patients carried a combination of three HLA class II alleles that has been linked to type 1 diabetes (DQA1*05:01:01:01~DQB1*02:01:01~DRB1*03:01:01:01), and five patients carried a combination of HLA class II alleles that has been linked to the risk of contracting multiple sclerosis (DQA1*01:02:01:01, DQB1*06:02:01, DRB1*15:01:01:01). We also analyzed the diversity of αβ T cells in brain and blood specimens from 14 of these RE surgery cases by sequencing the third complementarity regions (CDR3s) of rearranged T cell receptor β genes. A total of 31 unique CDR3 sequences accounted for the top 5% of all CDR3 sequences in the 14 brain specimens. Thirteen of these sequences were found in sequencing data from healthy blood donors; the remaining 18 sequences were patient specific. These observations provide evidence for the clonal expansion of public and private T cells in the brain, which might be influenced by the RE patient’s HLA haplotype.


Johnson et al. Nat. Med. 2019

A case report of clonal EBV-like memory CD4 + T cell activation in fatal checkpoint inhibitor-induced encephalitis

Checkpoint inhibitors produce durable responses in numerous metastatic cancers, but immune-related adverse events (irAEs) complicate and limit their benefit. IrAEs can affect organ systems idiosyncratically; presentations range from mild and self-limited to fulminant and fatal. The molecular mechanisms underlying irAEs are poorly understood. Here, we report a fatal case of encephalitis arising during anti-programmed cell death receptor 1 therapy in a patient with metastatic melanoma. Histologic analyses revealed robust T cell infiltration and prominent programmed death ligand 1 expression. We identified 209 reported cases in global pharmacovigilance databases (across multiple cancer types) of encephalitis associated with checkpoint inhibitor regimens, with a 19% fatality rate. We performed further analyses from the index case and two additional cases to shed light on this recurrent and fulminant irAE. Spatial and multi-omic analyses pinpointed activated memory CD4+ T cells as highly enriched in the inflamed, affected region. We identified a highly oligoclonal T cell receptor repertoire, which we localized to activated memory cytotoxic (CD45RO+GZMB+Ki67+) CD4 cells. We also identified Epstein-Barr virus-specific T cell receptors and EBV+ lymphocytes in the affected region, which we speculate contributed to neural inflammation in the index case. Collectively, the three cases studied here identify CD4+ and CD8+ T cells as culprits of checkpoint inhibitor-associated immune encephalitis.


Bertoli et al. Sci. Rep. 2019

Lack of specific T- and B-cell clonal expansions in multiple sclerosis patients with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare, potentially devastating myelin-degrading disease caused by the JC virus. PML occurs preferentially in patients with compromised immune system, but has been also observed in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with disease-modifying drugs. We characterized T and B cells in 5 MS patients that developed PML, 4 during natalizumab therapy and one after alemtuzumab treatment, and in treated patients who did not develop the disease. Results revealed that: i) thymic and bone marrow output was impaired in 4 out 5 patients at the time of PML development; ii) T-cell repertoire was restricted; iii) clonally expanded T cells were present in all patients. However, common usage or pairings of T-cell receptor beta variable or joining genes, specific clonotypes or obvious "public" T-cell response were not detected at the moment of PML onset. Similarly, common restrictions were not found in the immunoglobulin heavy chain repertoire. The data indicate that no JCV-related specific T- and B-cell expansions were mounted at the time of PML. The current results enhance our understanding of JC virus infection and PML, and should be taken into account when choosing targeted therapies.

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The TCR repertoire of α-synuclein-specific T cells in Parkinson’s disease is surprisingly diverse

Singhana et al. Scientific Reports, 2021

This study provides the first characterization of α-syn-specific TCR clonotypes in individuals with PD. Antigen-specific TCRs can serve as immunotherapeutics and diagnostics, and means to track longitudinal changes in specific T cells, and disease progression.

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