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The role of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of spontaneous canine CNS diseases

Dogs are comparatively frequently affected by various spontaneously occurring inflammatory and degenerative central nervous system (CNS) conditions, and immunopathological processes are a hallmark of the associated neuropathology. Due to the low regenerative capacity of the CNS a sophisticated understanding of the underlying molecular basis for disease initiation, progression and remission in canine CNS diseases represents a prerequisite for the development of novel therapeutical approaches. In addition, as many spontaneous canine CNS diseases share striking similarities with their human counterpart, knowledge about the immune pathogenesis may in part be translated for a better understanding of certain human diseases. In addition to cytokine-driven differentiation of peripheral leukocytes including different subsets of T cells recent research suggests a pivotal role of these mediators also in phenotype polarization of resident glial cells. Cytokines thus represent the key mediators of the local and systemic immune response in CNS diseases and their orchestration significantly decides on either lesion progression or remission. The aim of the present review is to summarize the growing number of data focusing on the molecular basis of the immune response during spontaneous canine CNS diseases and to detail the effect of cytokines on the immune pathogenesis of selected idiopathic, infectious, and traumatic canine CNS diseases. Steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis (SRMA) represents a unique idiopathic disease of leptomeningeal blood vessels characterized by excessive IgA secretion into the cerebrospinal fluid. Recent reports have given sophisticated insights into the cytokine-driven, immune-mediated pathogenesis of SRMA that is characterized by a biased T helper 2 cell response. Canine distemper associated leukoencephalitis represents an important spontaneously occurring disease that allows investigations on the basic pathogenesis of immune-mediated myelin loss. It is characterized by an early virus-induced up-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines with chronic bystander immune-mediated demyelinating processes. Lastly, canine spinal cord injury (SCI) shares many similarities with the human counterpart and most commonly results from intervertebral disk disease. The knowledge of its pathogenesis is largely restricted to experimental studies in rodents, and the impact of immune processes that accompany secondary injury is discussed controversially. Recent investigations on canine SCI highlight the pivotal role of pro-inflammatory cytokine expression that is paralleled by a dominating reaction of microglia/macrophages potentially indicating a polarization of these immune cells into a neurotoxic and harmful phenotype. This report will review the role of cytokines in the immune processes of the mentioned representative canine CNS diseases and highlight the importance of cytokine/cytokine interaction as a useful therapeutic target in canine CNS diseases.

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