Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The development of therapies for multiple sclerosis targeting pathogenic T cell responses remains imperative. Previous studies have shown that estrogen receptor (ER) β ligands could inhibit experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. However, the effects of ERβ-specific ligands on human or murine pathogenic immune cells, such as Th17, were not investigated. In this article, we show that the synthetic ERβ-specific ligand 4-(2-phenyl-5,7-bis[trifluoromethyl]pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidin-3-yl)phenol (PHTPP) reversed established paralysis and CNS inflammation, characterized by a dramatic suppression of pathogenic Th responses as well as induction of IL-10-producing regulatory CD4(+) T cell subsets in vivo. Moreover, administration of PHTPP in symptomatic mice induced regulatory CD4(+) T cells that were suppressive in vivo. PHTPP-mediated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis amelioration was canceled in mice with ERβ-deficient CD4(+) T cells only, indicating that expression of ERβ by these cells is crucial for the observed therapeutic effect. Importantly, synthetic ERβ-specific ligands acting directly on CD4(+) T cells suppressed human and mouse Th17 cells, downregulating Th17 cell signature gene expression and expanding IL-10-producing T cells among them. TGF-β1 and aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation enhanced the ERβ ligand-mediated expansion of IL-10-producing T cells among Th17 cells. In addition, these ERβ-specific ligands promoted the induction and maintenance of Foxp3(+) T regulatory cells, as well as their in vitro suppressive function. Thus, ERβ-specific ligands targeting pathogenic Th17 cells and inducing functional regulatory cells represent a promising subset of therapeutic agents for multiple sclerosis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





4947 - 4956


Animals, Autoimmunity, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Central Nervous System, Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental, Estrogen Receptor beta, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Humans, Interleukin-10, Ligands, Mice, Multiple Sclerosis, Paralysis, Pyrazoles, Pyrimidines, Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Th17 Cells, Transforming Growth Factor beta1