Eosinophils are abundant in inflammatory demyelinating lesions in neuromyelitis optica (NMO). We used cell culture, ex vivo spinal cord slices, and in vivo mouse models of NMO to investigate the role of eosinophils in NMO pathogenesis and the therapeutic potential of eosinophil inhibitors. Eosinophils cultured from mouse bone marrow produced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in cell cultures expressing aquaporin-4 in the presence of NMO autoantibody (NMO-IgG). In the presence of complement, eosinophils greatly increased cell killing by a complement-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (CDCC) mechanism. NMO pathology was produced in NMO-IgG–treated spinal cord slice cultures by inclusion of eosinophils or their granule toxins. The second-generation antihistamines cetirizine and ketotifen, which have eosinophil-stabilizing actions, greatly reduced NMO-IgG/eosinophil–dependent cytotoxicity and NMO pathology. In live mice, demyelinating NMO lesions produced by continuous intracerebral injection of NMO-IgG and complement showed marked eosinophil infiltration. Lesion severity was increased in transgenic hypereosinophilic mice. Lesion severity was reduced in mice made hypoeosinophilic by anti–IL-5 antibody or by gene deletion, and in normal mice receiving cetirizine orally. Our results implicate the involvement of eosinophils in NMO pathogenesis by ADCC and CDCC mechanisms and suggest the therapeutic utility of approved eosinophil-stabilizing drugs.
Hua Zhang, A.S. Verkman