Mechanisms of the adaptive immune response inside the central nervous system during inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

Enrico Pedemonte, Gianluigi Mancardi, Debora Giunti, Anna Corcione, Federica Benvenuto, Vito Pistoia, Antonio Uccelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this review we will discuss the unique features that make the central nervous system (CNS) a specialized microenvironment where immune responses are tightly regulated in order to properly face pathogens without damaging the neural cells. We will show how every paradigm of this theoretical model has been addressed by the scientific literature over the past decades providing new insights on the immune response within the CNS. In particular, new light has been shed on the trafficking of the immune cells inside and outside the CNS. Dendritic cells (DCs) have been described in the context of structures in direct contact with the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and their migration, upon antigen encounter, outside the CNS into deep cervical lymph nodes (DCLNs) has been further clarified. T-cells, B-cells, and antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) have been found in the CSF and CNS parenchymal lesions of inflammatory disorders and their phenotype depicted. Moreover, in chronically inflamed CNS, ectopic lymphoid structures have been observed and a germinal center reaction similar to the one found in peripheral lymph nodes has been described. These structures may play a role in the maintenance and expansion of the local autoimmune response. Although the complex interactions between immune and neural cells still remain far to be elucidated, the data discussed here suggest that the physiopathology of the adaptive immune response inside the CNS mimics, although in a mitigated fashion, what occurs in other organs and tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-566
Number of pages12
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


  • Adaptive immunity
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Central nervous system
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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