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Mindur, JE;Ito, N;Dhib-Jalbut, S;Ito, K;
Natalizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the leukocyte adhesion molecule very late antigen (VLA)-4, and is currently an approved therapy for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). However, it is unknown whether natalizumab is beneficial for progressive forms of MS. Therefore, we assessed the effects of anti-VLA-4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy in a progressive experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model. Notably, we found that early therapy could significantly reduce the severity of progressive EAE, while treatment initiated at an advanced stage was less efficient. Furthermore, we observed the accumulation of a novel subset of GM-CSF-producing CD11b+CD4+ T cells in the CNS throughout disease progression. Importantly, early therapeutic anti-VLA-4 mAb treatment suppressed the accumulation of these GM-CSF-producing CD11b+CD4+ T cells in the CNS along with activated microglia/macrophages populations, and also conferred a protective effect against inflammation-mediated neurodegeneration, including demyelination and axonal loss. Collectively, our data suggest that early treatment with anti-VLA-4 mAb can provide neuroprotection against progressive CNS autoimmune disease by preventing the accumulation of pathogenic GM-CSF-producing CD11b+CD4+ T cells in the CNS.