Multiple Sclerosis Brain Immunoglobulins Stimulate Myelin Basic Protein Degradation in Human Myelin: A New Cause of Demyelination

Nicole Kerlero de Rosbo, Claude C.A. Bernard

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Abstract: Membrane‐bound proteolysis may be implicated in the pathogenesis of demyelinating disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS). We previously found that the extent of myelin basic protein (MBP) degradation by the calcium‐activated neutral protease did not differ for isolated human control myelin or MS myelin. Hence we suggested that, if involved in demyelination, the myelin neutral protease must be activated in vivo by an increased availability of free calcium. The postulate was therefore tested that immunoglobulin (Ig) binding to myelin results in activation of the myelin neutral protease, possibly through release of free calcium from calcium‐binding sites of myelin. Isolated myelin from the brains of controls and patients with MS were incubated with purified Igs eluted from the brains of patients with MS or controls and degradation of MBP was assessed by quantitative electroimmunoblotting. Such degradation was significantly greater in myelin incubated in the presence of MS Igs than in myelin incubated without added Igs or in the presence of control Igs. Furthermore, the degree of MBP degradation in myelin incubated with control Igs was similar to that observed in myelin incubated without added Igs. Accordingly, it is suggested that Ig in MS brain potentiates myelin breakdown. Moreover activation of membrane‐bound proteolysis by Ig binding to myelin appears to represent a hitherto undescribed pathway for demyelination in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium‐activated neutral protease
  • Immunoglobulin
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelin basic protein

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