The importance of the Notch receptor system in central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating disease has been suggested by experiments where inhibition of ?-secretase and antibody blocking of Delta-Like Ligand (DLL) 1 down-regulated inflammatory T cell cytokine responses. However, we were the first to recently demonstrate that blockade of DLL4 function inhibited the development of clinical experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Our data suggested that the role of DLL4 was to regulate encephalitogenic T cell chemokine receptor expression and subsequent trafficking to the CNS and not regulation of either Th1 or Th17 responses although DLL4 has been reported to have that function. DLL4 appears to be a significant molecule involved in the pathogenesis of EAE as it has a greater ability than DLL1 or Jagged 1 to regulate T cell activation. That finding together with our preliminary data indicating that T cell activation with anti-CD3, anti-CD28 and recombinant DLL4, but not recombinant DLL1 or Jagged1, up-regulated chemokine receptors provides strong rationale to pursue DLL4- mediated Notch regulation of T cell migration in EAE as a critical element in the pathogenesis of disease. Therefore, our overall hypothesis is that DLL4 regulates EAE development by modulating T cell effector trafficking mechanisms.
Three specific aims are proposed to directly test this idea, determine the mechanism behind the original observation and translate these findings into a novel therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS).
In specific aim 1 we will determine the mechanism behind DLL4 regulation of T cell chemokine receptor expression.
In specific aim 2 we will determine whether endothelial DLL4 engagement with T cell Notch cells to regulate T cell chemokine receptor expression.
In specific aim 3 we will determine anti-DLL4 treatment efficacy and the role of DLL4 in epitope spreading as a mechanism of relapsing EAE. The proposed work therefore has high biomedical significance and will introduce conceptual and technical innovations to the area of MS research.

Public Health Relevance

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a significant human health problem that has been studied for a long time;however, the exact mechanisms of how the wide variety of leukocyte subpopulations, including the inflammatory macrophage, gains entry into the brain are not well understood. Similarly, there have been advancements in therapy for MS, although in many cases therapy is not long lasting. The present application seeks to explore and understand the mechanisms by which white blood cells move from the blood and into the brain and the results of these experiments will identify new targets for drug development that will aid in the treatment of MS.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Hypersensitivity, Autoimmune, and Immune-mediated Diseases Study Section (HAI)
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Esch, Thomas R
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
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