Tight junction proteins expression and modulation in immune cells and multiple sclerosis

Ilana Mandel, Tamar Paperna, Lea Glass-Marmor, Anat Volkowich, Samih Badarny, Ilya Schwartz, Pnina Vardi, Ilana Koren, Ariel Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The tight junction proteins (TJPs) are major determinants of endothelial cells comprising physiological vascular barriers such as the blood-brain barrier, but little is known about their expression and role in immune cells. In this study we assessed TJP expression in human leukocyte subsets, their induction by immune activation and modulation associated with autoimmune disease states and therapies. A consistent expression of TJP complexes was detected in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs), predominantly in B and T lymphocytes and monocytes, whereas the in vitro application of various immune cell activators led to an increase of claudin 1 levels, yet not of claudin 5. Claudins 1 and 5 levels were elevated in PBLs of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in relapse, relative to patients in remission, healthy controls and patients with other neurological disorders. Interestingly, claudin 1 protein levels were elevated also in PBLs of patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Following glucocorticoid treatment of MS patients in relapse, RNA levels of JAM3 and CLDN5 and claudin 5 protein levels in PBLs decreased. Furthermore, a correlation between CLDN5 pre-treatment levels and clinical response phenotype to interferon-β therapy was detected. Our findings indicate that higher levels of leukocyte claudins are associated with immune activation and specifically, increased levels of claudin 5 are associated with MS disease activity. This study highlights a potential role of leukocyte TJPs in physiological states, and autoimmunity and suggests they should be further evaluated as biomarkers for aberrant immune activity and response to therapy in immune-mediated diseases such as MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-775
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmunity
  • Biomarker
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Interferon-β
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tight junctions


Dive into the research topics of 'Tight junction proteins expression and modulation in immune cells and multiple sclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this