Programmed death 1 is highly expressed on CD8+ CD57+ T cells in patients with stable multiple sclerosis and inhibits their cytotoxic response to Epstein–Barr virus

Maria T. Cencioni, Roberta Magliozzi, Richard Nicholas, Rehiana Ali, Omar Malik, Richard Reynolds, Giovanna Borsellino, Luca Battistini, Paolo A. Muraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Growing evidence points to a deregulated response to Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) in the central nervous system of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) as a possible cause of disease. We have investigated the response of a subpopulation of effector CD8+ T cells to EBV in 36 healthy donors and in 35 patients with MS in active and inactive disease. We have measured the expression of markers of degranulation, the release of cytokines, cytotoxicity and the regulation of effector functions by inhibitory receptors, such as programmed death 1 (PD-1) and human inhibitor receptor immunoglobulin-like transcript 2 (ILT2). We demonstrate that polyfunctional cytotoxic CD8+ CD57+ T cells are able to kill EBV-infected cells in healthy donors. In contrast, an anergic exhaustion-like phenotype of CD8+ CD57+ T cells with high expression of PD-1 was observed in inactive patients with MS compared with active patients with MS or healthy donors. Detection of CD8+ CD57+ T cells in meningeal inflammatory infiltrates from post-mortem MS tissue confirmed the association of this cell phenotype with the disease pathological process. The overall results suggest that ineffective immune control of EBV in patietns with MS during remission may be one factor preceding and enabling the reactivation of the virus in the central nervous system and may cause exacerbation of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-676
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017



  • CD8 CD57 T cells
  • cytotoxic T-cell response
  • Epstein–Barr virus
  • multiple sclerosis
  • programmed death 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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