Steroidal estrogens can regulate inflammatory immune responses and may be involved in the suppression of multiple sclerosis (MS) during pregnancy. However, the risks and side effects associated with steroidal estrogens may limit their usefulness for long-term MS therapy. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) could provide an alternative therapeutic strategy, because they behave as estrogen agonists in some tissues, but are either inert or behave like estrogen antagonists in other tissues. In this study, we investigated the ability of two commercially available SERMs (tamoxifen and raloxifene) to regulate myelin specific immunity and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice. Both tamoxifen and raloxifene suppressed myelin antigen specific T-cell proliferation. However, tamoxifen was more effective in this regard. Tamoxifen treatment reduced the induction of major histocompatibility complex II by lipopolysaccharide stimulated dendritic cells and decreased their ability to activate myelin specific T-cells. At lower doses, tamoxifen was found to increase the levels of Th2 transcription factors and induce a Th2 bias in cultures of myelin-specific splenocytes. EAE symptoms and the degree of demyelination were less severe in mice treated with tamoxifen than in control mice. These findings support the notion that tamoxifen or related SERMs are potential agents that could be used in the treatment of inflammatory autoimmune disorders that affect the central nervous system.
- Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience