The expression of class I and class II MHC products in human brain was studied. Radioimmunoassay confirmed weak expression of HLA-A,B,C and beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2-m) in brain extract. Quantitative inhibition assay showed brain had 1/70 as much activity as spleen, per microgram of extract protein. Immunoblot assay confirmed that HLA chains and beta 2-m were present in the brain extract. Class II was not detected. Microscopic analysis was performed on eight brain biopsies. The histologic appearance ranged from "apparently normal," to the presence of reactive astrocytes, to the presence of glial tumor. In every case, HLA-A,B,C and beta 2-m activity was concentrated at blood vessel walls. Small and medium-sized vessels were uniformly stained. Cell body staining was not seen in neurons, glia, oligodendrocytes, microglia, reactive astrocytes, or the majority of glial tumor cells. Class II activity was seen in occasional cell bodies in both grey matter and white matter in the microscopic assays. These cells had the morphologic appearance of microglia or reactive astrocytes. Occasional blood vessels also showed class II activity. Unlike the class I activity, the class II blood vessel stain was often discontinuous. More class II+ cell bodies were seen in tumor-associated tissue.

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