Absence of perforin expression confers axonal protection despite demyelination

Charles L. Howe, Jaimie D. Adelson, Moses Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Current evidence suggests that demyelination may be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for neurologic deficits associated with multiple sclerosis. Axon injury that occurs within the permissive environment of the demyelinated lesion is better correlated with functional deficits, but the mechanisms and cellular effectors of this injury are largely unknown. In an effort to identify potential axon injury mediators, we examined demyelination, motor function, and the number of spinal axons in perforin-deficient mice. Perforin is a critical molecular mediator of cytotoxic immunological injury and we hypothesized that genetic deletion of perforin expression would protect demyelinated axons. Indeed, we found that while perforin-deficient mice had considerable spinal cord demyelination 180 days after infection with Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus, such mice exhibited functional and axonal preservation comparable to non-demyelinated perforin-competent controls. We conclude that perforin-dependent effector cells such as cytotoxic T cells, γδ T cells, and natural killer cells may play a role in axon damage that is dependent upon but separable from demyelination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-359
Number of pages6
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Axon
  • Cytotoxic lymphocyte
  • Major histocompatibility complex class I
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuroimmunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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