IL-21 receptor expression determines the temporal phases of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Ruolan Liu, Ying Bai, Timothy L. Vollmer, Xue Feng Bai, Youngheun Jee, Yi yuan Tang, Denise I. Campagnolo, Mary Collins, Deborah A. Young, Antonio La Cava, Fu Dong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) consists of a unique subunit and a common γ chain (γc) that is shared with other cytokines including IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, and IL-15. The interaction between IL-21 and IL-21R results in significant effects on both innate and adaptive immune responses. In this study we examined the influence of IL-21R deficiency (IL-21R-/-) on the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of human multiple sclerosis (MS). IL-21R-/- mice developed EAE earlier and more severe neurological impairment than control mice, yet those mice could effectively recover from neurological deficits. The impact on EAE initiation by IL-21R deficiency was associated with a defect of CD4+CD25+ T regulatory (Treg) cells and a down-regulated expression of Foxp3. The recovery from IL-21R-/- EAE was correlated with an expansion of Treg cells as well as an organ-specific redistribution of NK cells. These results suggest that a temporal influence of IL-21 on the activity of immunoregulatory circuits can be important in the modulation of the course of the autoimmune disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmunity
  • CD4CD25 regulatory T cells
  • EAE
  • IL-21 receptor
  • NK cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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