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Multiple Sclerosis International
Volume 2013, Article ID 151427, 16 pages
Review Article

Autoimmune T-Cell Reactivity to Myelin Proteolipids and Glycolipids in Multiple Sclerosis

UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia

Received 28 June 2013; Accepted 12 September 2013

Academic Editor: Bianca Weinstock-Guttman

Copyright © 2013 Judith M. Greer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Central nervous system (CNS) myelin, the likely major target of autoimmune attack in multiple sclerosis (MS), contains a number of unique components that are potential targets of the attack. Two classes of molecules that are greatly enriched in CNS myelin compared to other parts of the body are certain types of proteolipids and glycolipids. Due to the hydrophobic nature of both of these classes of molecules, they present challenges for use in immunological assays and have therefore been somewhat neglected in studies of T-cell reactivity in MS compared to more soluble molecules such as the myelin basic proteins and the extracellular domain of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein. This review firstly looks at the makeup of CNS myelin, with an emphasis on proteolipids and glycolipids. Next, a retrospective of what is known of T-cell reactivity directed against proteolipids and glycolipids in patients with MS is presented, and the implications of the findings are discussed. Finally, this review considers the question of what would be required to prove a definite role for autoreactivity against proteolipids and glycolipids in the pathogenesis of MS.