National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers report that lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). An NIH news release notes this evidence may also help define the effects daclizumab, one of the newer drugs currently being assessed as a potential treatment for MS. 

In the recent study, daclizumab reportedly demonstrated its ability to thin the ranks of LTi cells, spotlighting the, “cells as a promising target for the development of new drugs to treat autoimmune disorders,” explains Bibiana Bielekova, MD, an investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 

Bielekova and her team report that during the study and clinical trails of daclizumab, MS participants who were not treated with the drug exhibited elevated levels of LTi cells, compared to participants who were being treated with the drug. The results also suggest that participants receiving daclizumab exhibited reduced signs of inflammation in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Researchers add that daclizumab may help steer the body away from LTi cell production and towards another cell type that counteracts autoimmunity.

Bielekova notes that by suppressing LTi cells, daclizumab may reduce the growth of lymphoid follicles. The release reports that the researchers also measured the effects of daclizumab on markers of inflammation in the CSF. The results indicated that the protein CXCL13 decreased by an average of 50% and 14%, respectively, in trial participants who were treated with the drug for 6 ½ months. Bielekova emphasizes the significance of the results, particularly in light of CXCL13’s association with the IgG index, “To our knowledge, no other MS therapy reduces IgG index,” Bielekova says. 

Bielekova adds that further research is needed to confirm that the cells play a key role in MS or other autoimmune disorders, as the current data provides an indirect link between LTi cells and brain inflammation in MS. Bielekova notes that, “pursuing the development of new drugs to selectively inhibit LTi cells could be a useful therapeutic strategy.”

Source: NIH