Contribution of Resident Endoneurial Macrophages to the Local Cellular Response in Experimental Autoimmune Neuritis

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Macrophages are intimately involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory neuropathies. The contribution of resident endoneurial macrophages is unknown since their differentiation from infiltrating macrophages is difficult due to missing cellular markers. Previous studies demonstrated the participation of resident macrophages in Wallerian degeneration and the pathogenesis of hereditary neuropathies. The question arises whether resident macrophages are involved in experimental autoimmune neuritis (EAN) where they could contribute to immunosurveillance and antigen presentation. To address this question we used bone marrow chimeric rats, allowing the differentiation between resident and hematogenous cells. Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization were applied on to identify and characterize resident macrophages in terms of morphological features, expression of activation markers, proliferation, phagocytosis, and MHC-II expression. Endoneurial macrophages of resident origin were detectable at all stages of disease with a contribution of at least 27% of the total macrophages. They appeared activated by morphological and immunohistochemical criteria and proliferated early. MHC-II-positive resident macrophages were observed that had phagocytosed myelin. These results demonstrate that the macrophage response in EAN is partly of intrinsic origin. The rapid activation and proliferation of resident endoneurial macrophages points toward an active role of these cells in inflammatory peripheral nerve disease, especially early in disease.

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