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The mechanisms leading to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the CNS have not been elucidated. The environmental triggers of the aberrant presence of CD4+ T cells in the CNS are not known. In this article, we report that abnormal β-catenin expression in T cells drives a fatal neuroinflammatory disease in mice that is characterized by CNS infiltration of T cells, glial activation, and progressive loss of motor function. We show that enhanced β-catenin expression in T cells leads to aberrant and Th1-biased T cell activation, enhanced expression of integrin α4β1, and infiltration of activated T cells into the spinal cord, without affecting regulatory T cell function. Importantly, expression of β-catenin in mature naive T cells was sufficient to drive integrin α4β1 expression and CNS migration, whereas pharmacologic inhibition of integrin α4β1 reduced the abnormal T cell presence in the CNS of β-catenin-expressing mice. Together, these results implicate deregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in CNS inflammation and suggest novel therapeutic strategies for neuroinflammatory disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





3031 - 3041


Animals, Inflammation, Integrin alpha4beta1, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Spinal Cord, Spinal Cord Diseases, Th1 Cells, Wnt Signaling Pathway, beta Catenin