Ovine IFN-tau modulates the expression of MHC antigens on murine cerebrovascular endothelial cells and inhibits replication of Theiler's virus.
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Interferon-beta (IFN-beta) has been used successfully to treat patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). IFN-tau is a new class of type I IFN that is secreted by the trophoblast and is the signal for maternal recognition of pregnancy in sheep. IFN-tau has potent immunosuppressive and antiviral activities similar to other type I IFN but is less cytotoxic than IFN-alpha/beta. The current investigation concerns the effect of recombinant ovine IFN-tau (rOvIFN-tau) on the modulation of MHC class I and II expression on cloned mouse cerebrovascular endothelial (CVE) cells. IFN-tau induced tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat1 and upregulated the expression of MHC class I on CVE. One proposed action by which type I IFN reduce the relapse rate in MS is via interference with IFN-gamma-induced MHC class II expression. IFN-tau was shown to downregulate IFN-gamma-induced MHC class II expression on CVE and, hence, may be of potential therapeutic value in downregulating inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS). IFN-tau did not upregulate the expression of MHC class II on CVE. IFN-tau also inhibited the replication of Theiler's virus in CVE. These in vitro results suggest that IFN-tau may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of virus-induced demyelinating disease.