PloS one

Is peripheral immunity regulated by blood-brain barrier permeability changes?

PMID 24988410


S100B is a reporter of blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity which appears in blood when the BBB is breached. Circulating S100B derives from either extracranial sources or release into circulation by normal fluctuations in BBB integrity or pathologic BBB disruption (BBBD). Elevated S100B matches the clinical presence of indices of BBBD (gadolinium enhancement or albumin coefficient). After repeated sub-concussive episodes, serum S100B triggers an antigen-driven production of anti-S100B autoantibodies. We tested the hypothesis that the presence of S100B in extracranial tissue is due to peripheral cellular uptake of serum S100B by antigen presenting cells, which may induce the production of auto antibodies against S100B. To test this hypothesis, we used animal models of seizures, enrolled patients undergoing repeated BBBD, and collected serum samples from epileptic patients. We employed a broad array of techniques, including immunohistochemistry, RNA analysis, tracer injection and serum analysis. mRNA for S100B was segregated to barrier organs (testis, kidney and brain) but S100B protein was detected in immunocompetent cells in spleen, thymus and lymph nodes, in resident immune cells (Langerhans, satellite cells in heart muscle, etc.) and BBB endothelium. Uptake of labeled S100B by rat spleen CD4+ or CD8+ and CD86+ dendritic cells was exacerbated by pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus which is accompanied by BBBD. Clinical seizures were preceded by a surge of serum S100B. In patients undergoing repeated therapeutic BBBD, an autoimmune response against S100B was measured. In addition to its role in the central nervous system and its diagnostic value as a BBBD reporter, S100B may integrate blood-brain barrier disruption to the control of systemic immunity by a mechanism involving the activation of immune cells. We propose a scenario where extravasated S100B may trigger a pathologic autoimmune reaction linking systemic and CNS immune responses.