Oligodendrocytes are a major target of the purported autoimmune response in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying their demise. Despite the expression of proapoptotic receptors, these cells are rarely seen to undergo apoptosis in situ. On the other hand, cytotoxic mediators present in MS lesions, such as tumor necrosis factor-α, are known to generate survival signals through the activation of the transcription factors NF-κB and c-jun. The aim of this study was to investigate in chronic active and silent MS lesions and control white matter the expression of c-jun, its activating molecule, JNK, as well as NF-κB complex and its inhibitor, IκB. By immunohistochemistry we found negligible reactivity for these molecules in control white matter and silent MS plaques. In active MS lesions, double-label immunohistochemistry with oligodendrocyte markers showed up-regulation of the nuclear staining for both NF-κB and JNK on a large proportion of oligodendrocytes located at the edge of active lesions and on microglia/macrophages throughout plaques. Oligodendrocytes showed no reactivity for IκB, which was predominantly confined to the cytoplasm of microglia/macrophages. We hypothesize that activation of these transcriptional pathways may be one mechanism accounting for the paucity of oligodendrocyte apoptosis reported in MS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine