The Ifng gene is essential for Vdr gene expression and vitamin D 3-mediated reduction of the pathogenic T cell burden in the central nervous system in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a multiple sclerosis model

Justin A. Spanier, Faye E. Nashold, Julie K. Olson, Colleen E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Compelling evidence suggests that vitamin D3 insufficiency may contribute causally to multiple sclerosis (MS) risk. Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) research firmly supports this hypothesis. Vitamin D3 supports 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-[OH]2D 3) synthesis in the CNS, initiating biological processes that reduce pathogenic CD4+ T cell longevity. MS is prevalent in Sardinia despite high ambient UV irradiation, challenging the vitamin D-MS hypothesis. Sardinian MS patients frequently carry a low Ifng expresser allele, suggesting that inadequate IFN-γ may undermine vitamin D3-mediated inhibition of demyelinating disease. Testing this hypothesis, we found vitamin D3 failed to inhibit EAE in female Ifng knockout (GKO) mice, unlike wild-type mice. The two strains did not differ in Cyp27b1 and Cyp24a1 gene expression, implying equivalent vitamin D3 metabolism in the CNS. The 1,25-(OH) 2D3 inhibited EAE in both strains, but 2-fold more 1,25-(OH)2D3 was needed in GKO mice, causing hypercalcemic toxicity. Unexpectedly, GKO mice had very low Vdr gene expression in the CNS. Injecting IFN-γ intracranially into adult mice did not increase Vdr gene expression. Correlating with low Vdr expression, GKO mice had more numerous pathogenic Th1 and Th17 cells in the CNS, and 1,25-(OH)2D3 reduced these cells in GKO and wild-type mice without altering Foxp3 + regulatory T cells. Thus, the Ifng gene was needed for CNS Vdr gene expression and vitamin D3-dependent mechanisms that inhibit EAE. Individuals with inadequate Ifng expression may have increased MS risk despite high ambient UV irradiation because of low Vdr gene expression and a high encephalitogenic T cell burden in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3188-3197
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Volume189
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2012

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