Extensive aquaporin-4 (AQP4) loss without perivascular deposition of either activated complement or immunoglobulins is a characteristic of Baló's disease. Our aim in this study was to investigate the relationship between astrocytopathy and demyelination in Baló's disease, focusing on connexins (Cx), which form gap junctions among glial cells and myelin. Autopsied specimens from four cases that provided seven actively demyelinating concentric lesions infiltrated with numerous CD68 + macrophages were immunohistochemically examined for the astrocyte markers glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), AQP4, Cx43, Cx30 and megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cyst 1 (MLC1). Specimens were also stained for oligodendrocyte/ myelin markers, namely Cx32, Cx47, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), oligodendrocyte-specific protein (OSP) and Nogo-A. Serum samples from six patients that had undergone magnetic resonance imaging, confirming a diagnosis of Baló's disease, were assayed for the presence of anti-Cx43, -Cx32 and -AQP4 antibodies. Despite the presence of numerous GFAP- and MLC1-positive astrocytes, there was a marked decrease in the levels of Cx43, Cx32 and Cx47. At the leading edges, Cx43 and AQP4 were mostly absent despite positive GFAP, MLC1, Cx32, Cx47, MOG, MAG, and OSP immunoreactivity. Of the six Baló's disease patients, none were positive for anti-Cxs or -AQP4 antibodies. Baló's disease is characterized by extensive loss of Cxs and AQP4, and a lack of auto-antibodies to Cxs and AQP4. Loss of Cx43 and AQP4 in the presence of other oligodendrocyte/myelin proteins at the leading edges suggests the possibility that auto-antibody-independent astrocytopathy may contribute to disease pathology via the disruption of astrocyte-oligodendrocyte/myelin interactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience