APOE ε3 attenuates experimental autoimmune neuritis by modulating T cell, macrophage and Schwann cell functions

Hong Liang Zhang, Xi Jing Mao, Xing Mei Zhang, Hai Feng Li, Xiang Yu Zheng, Abdu Adem, Eilhard Mix, Jie Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Human apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a 34.2. kDa glycosylated protein with three isoforms (apoE2, apoE3 and apoE4). Experimental autoimmune neuritis (EAN), an animal model for human Guillain-Barré syndrome, is an immune-mediated experimental disorder of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Increased susceptibility to EAN in apoE deficient mice has been previously found. To elucidate the isoform-dependent effects of apoE on EAN, we used human apoE2, E3 and E4 transgenic mice (Tg) immunized with P0 peptide 180-199, as well as T cell proliferation test, macrophage and Schwann cell (SC) cultures to investigate the effects of apoE isoforms on the functions of T cells, macrophages and SCs both under naïve conditions and in EAN. Clinical signs of EAN were most severe in wild type (WT) C57BL/6 mice and apoE4 Tg mice, followed by apoE2 Tg mice and apoE3 Tg mice (WT ≈ E4 > E2 > E3, p< 0.01). At the nadir of EAN, spleen weight and lymphocyte proliferation were in line with the clinical severity of the disease. Proliferation tests of purified T cells from naive mice stimulated with phytohemagglutinin or interleukin-12 showed isoform-specific differences (WT ≈ E4 > E3 > E2, p< 0.01). Macrophages from both naïve and EAN mice produced nitric oxide upon inflammatory stimulation with lipopolysaccharide, interferon-γ, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid or combinations thereof, in an isoform-dependent manner (WT ≈ E4 > E2 > E3, p< 0.01). Generalized intervention with 1400W, a specific inducible nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, significantly suppressed the clinical course of EAN in apoE2, E3 and E4 Tg mice and in WT mice. During the recovery stage of disease, the highest expression of CD178 (FasL) on SCs was found in apoE3 Tg mice. Our data support an isoform-dependent effect of apoE on EAN. This might be due to the isoform-specific effects of apoE on functions of T cells, macrophages and SCs, which contribute to the distinct clinical courses of EAN. ApoE3 might not only inhibit the onset and suppress the clinical severity of EAN, but also enhance the termination of immune responses in the PNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Apolipoprotein e
  • Experimental autoimmune neuritis
  • Macrophage
  • Nitric oxide
  • Schwann cell
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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