Astrocytic junctional adhesion molecule-A regulates T-cell entry past the glia limitans to promote central nervous system autoimmune attack

Mario Amatruda, Candice Chapouly, Viola Woo, Farinaz Safavi, Joy Zhang, David Dai, Anthony Therattil, Chang Moon, Jorge Villavicencio, Alexandra Gordon, Charles Parkos, Sam Horng

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1 Scopus citations


Contact-mediated interactions between the astrocytic endfeet and infiltrating immune cells within the perivascular space are underexplored, yet represent potential regulatory check-points against CNS autoimmune disease and disability. Reactive astrocytes upregulate junctional adhesion molecule-A, an immunoglobulin-like cell surface receptor that binds to T cells via its ligand, the integrin, lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1. Here, we tested the role of astrocytic junctional adhesion molecule-A in regulating CNS autoinflammatory disease. In cell co-cultures, we found that junctional adhesion molecule-A-mediated signalling between astrocytes and T cells increases levels of matrix metalloproteinase-2, C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, pro-inflammatory factors driving lymphocyte entry and pathogenicity in multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of CNS autoimmune disease. In experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, mice with astrocyte-specific JAM-A deletion (mGFAP:CreJAM-Afl/fl) exhibit decreased levels of matrix metalloproteinase-2, reduced ability of T cells to infiltrate the CNS parenchyma from the perivascular spaces and a milder histopathological and clinical course of disease compared with wild-type controls (JAM-Afl/fl). Treatment of wild-type mice with intraperitoneal injection of soluble junctional adhesion molecule-A blocking peptide decreases the severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, highlighting the potential of contact-mediated astrocyte-immune cell signalling as a novel translational target against neuroinflammatory disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfcac044
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Astrocyte immune cell cross-talk
  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Glia limitans
  • Junctional adhesion molecule-A
  • Multiple sclerosis


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