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1.  Anti-Interferon Autoantibodies in Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e289.
The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene influences thymic self-tolerance induction. In autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1; OMIM 240300), recessive AIRE mutations lead to autoimmunity targetting endocrine and other epithelial tissues, although chronic candidiasis usually appears first. Autoimmunity and chronic candidiasis can associate with thymomas as well. Patients with these tumours frequently also have high titre immunoglobulin G autoantibodies neutralising type I interferon (IFN)–α and IFN-ω, which are secreted signalling proteins of the cytokine superfamily involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.
Methods and Findings
We tested for serum autoantibodies to type I IFNs and other immunoregulatory cytokines using specific binding and neutralisation assays. Unexpectedly, in 60/60 Finnish and 16/16 Norwegian APS1 patients with both AIRE alleles mutated, we found high titre neutralising immunoglobulin G autoantibodies to most IFN-α subtypes and especially IFN-ω (60% homologous to IFN-α)—mostly in the earliest samples. We found lower titres against IFN-β (30% homologous to IFN-α) in 23% of patients; two-thirds of these (from Finland only) also had low titres against the distantly related “type III IFN” (IFN-λ1; alias interleukin-29). However, autoantibodies to the unrelated type II IFN, IFN-γ, and other immunoregulatory cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and interleukin-12, were much rarer and did not neutralise.
Neutralising titres against type I IFNs averaged even higher in patients with APS1 than in patients with thymomas. Anti–type I IFN autoantibodies preceded overt candidiasis (and several of the autoimmune disorders) in the informative patients, and persisted for decades thereafter. They were undetectable in unaffected heterozygous relatives of APS1 probands (except for low titres against IFN-λ1), in APS2 patients, and in isolated cases of the endocrine diseases most typical of APS1, so they appear to be APS1-specific.
Looking for potentially autoimmunising cell types, we found numerous IFN-α+ antigen-presenting cells—plus strong evidence of local IFN secretion—in the normal thymic medulla (where AIRE expression is strongest), and also in normal germinal centres, where it could perpetuate these autoantibody responses once initiated. IFN-α2 and IFN-α8 transcripts were also more abundant in antigen-presenting cells cultured from an APS1 patient's blood than from age-matched healthy controls.
These apparently spontaneous autoantibody responses to IFNs, particularly IFN-α and IFN-ω, segregate like a recessive trait; their high “penetrance” is especially remarkable for such a variable condition. Their apparent restriction to APS1 patients implies practical value in the clinic, e.g., in diagnosing unusual or prodromal AIRE-mutant patients with only single components of APS1, and possibly in prognosis if they prove to predict its onset. These autoantibody responses also raise numerous questions, e.g., about the rarity of other infections in APS1. Moreover, there must also be clues to autoimmunising mechanisms/cell types in the hierarchy of preferences for IFN-ω, IFN-α8, IFN-α2, and IFN-β and IFN-λ1.
Almost all of nearly 100 APS1 patients studied made large amounts of auto-antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω. The antibodies appeared early during development of the disease and may play a role in its etiology.
Editors' Summary
The human body is under constant attack by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of protein specific to pathogens) while ignoring self-antigens. If tolerance to self-antigens breaks down, autoimmunity develops, often causing disease. There are many common autoimmune diseases—type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, for example—but because these involve defects in many genes as well as environmental factors, the details of how autoimmunity develops remain unclear. Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1), however, is caused by defects in a single gene. Patients with this rare disease characteristically have defects (or mutations) in both copies of a gene called AIRE (for autoimmune regulator). In normal people, the protein product of this gene helps to establish tolerance to a subset of self-antigens. People carrying AIRE mutations make an autoimmune response against some of their own tissues, typically the endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues that control body metabolism. A major component of this autoimmune response are “autoantibodies” (antibodies are immune molecules that normally recognize and attack foreign substances, whereas autoantibodies are directed against the body's own molecules).
Why Was This Study Done?
For a diagnosis of APS1, a patient must have at least two of the following symptoms: recurrent, localized yeast infections (usually the first symptom of the disease to appear in early childhood), hypoparathyroidism (failure of the gland that controls calcium levels in the body), and Addison disease (failure of the steroid-producing adrenal glands, which help the body respond to stress). The researchers who did this study had previously noticed that these yeast infections and autoimmunity (usually against muscle) can also occur in patients with tumors of the thymus (thymomas). The thymus is the organ that generates immune cells called T cells. Generation of the T cell repertoire in the thymus involves selection of those T cells that recognize only foreign substances. T cells that can react against self-antigens are eliminated, and the AIRE gene is thought to be involved in this “education process.” Like those with APS1, patients with thymomas make autoantibodies not only against target organs (especially muscle in their case), but also against interferon alpha (IFN-α) and interferon omega (IFN-ω), two secreted immune regulators. The researchers wanted to know if patients with APS1 also make autoantibodies against interferons, because this could provide insights into how autoimmunity develops in APS1 and other autoimmune diseases.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested blood from nearly 100 APS1 patients for antibodies to IFN-α, IFN-ω, and other immunoregulatory cytokines. They found that almost all patients made large amounts of antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω; some also made lower amounts of antibodies against two related interferons, but none made blocking antibodies against unrelated interferons or other immune regulators. For many patients, serum samples were available at different times during their disease, which allowed the researchers to show that the antibodies appeared early in disease development, before the onset of yeast infections or damage to endocrine tissues, and their production continued for decades as the patient aged. Furthermore, only patients with APS1 made these antibodies—they were absent in patients with Addison disease alone, for example.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The discovery that autoantibodies to IFN-α and IFN-ω are made persistently in patients with APS1 suggests ways in which autoimmunity develops in these patients. These can now be investigated further both in patients and in animal models of the disease. The discovery also has practical implications. Measurement of these autoantibodies might help some APS1 patients by allowing earlier diagnosis—and prompter treatment—than in current practice. The levels of these autoantibodies might also help to predict the time course of APS1 in individual patients, although more studies will be needed to check this out. Finally, if future studies show that interferon autoantibodies are responsible for the patients' susceptibility to yeast infections (which seems plausible), treatment with IFN-γ, an interferon to which APS1 patients do not make autoantibodies, might provide an alternative way to deal with this problem.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• MedlinePlus pages on autoimmune diseases
• Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man page on APS1
• Links to patient information on APS1 from the Stanford Health Library
• Wikipedia page on autoendocrine polyendocrinopathy (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Information on autoimmunity from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
PMCID: PMC1475653  PMID: 16784312
2.  Effector mechanisms of interleukin-17 in collagen-induced arthritis in the absence of interferon-γ and counteraction by interferon-γ 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R122.
Interleukin (IL)-17 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Since interferon (IFN)-γ inhibits Th17 cell development, IFN-γ receptor knockout (IFN-γR KO) mice develop CIA more readily. We took advantage of this model to analyse the mechanisms of action of IL-17 in arthritis. The role of IFN-γ on the effector mechanisms of IL-17 in an in vitro system was also investigated.
IFN-γR KO mice induced for CIA were treated with anti-IL-17 or control antibody. The collagen type II (CII)-specific humoral and cellular autoimmune responses, myelopoiesis, osteoclastogenesis, and systemic cytokine production were determined. Mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) were stimulated with IL-17, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and the expression of cytokines and chemokines were determined.
A preventive anti-IL-17 antibody treatment inhibited CIA in IFNγR KO mice. In the joints of anti-IL-17-treated mice, neutrophil influx and bone destruction were absent. Treatment reduced the cellular autoimmune response as well as the splenic expansion of CD11b+ cells, and production of myelopoietic cytokines such as granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and IL-6. IL-17 and TNF-α synergistically induced granulocyte chemotactic protein-2 (GCP-2), IL-6 and receptor activator of NFκB ligand (RANKL) in MEF. This induction was profoundly inhibited by IFN-γ in a STAT-1 (signal transducer and activator of transcription-1)-dependent way.
In the absence of IFN-γ, IL-17 mediates its pro-inflammatory effects mainly through stimulatory effects on granulopoiesis, neutrophil infiltration and bone destruction. In vitro IFN-γ profoundly inhibits the effector function of IL-17. Thus, aside from the well-known inhibition of the development of Th17 cells by IFN-γ, this may be an additional mechanism through which IFN-γ attenuates autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC2745806  PMID: 19686583
Indian Journal of Dermatology  2010;55(2):157-160.
In both skin and synovial tissues of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients, there are prominent lymphocytic infiltrates localized to the dermal papillae in the skin and the sublining layer stroma in the joint. T-cells, with a predominance of CD4+ lymphocytes, are the most significant lymphocytes in the tissues; in contrast, this ratio is reversed in the epidermis, synovial fluid compartment, and at the enthesis, where CD8+ T-cells are more common. This differential tropism of CD8+ T-cell suggests that the CD8+ T-cells may be driving the immune response in the joint and skin. This is supported by an association with MHC class I. The cytokine network in the psoriatic skin and synovium is dominated by monocyte and T-cell-derived cytokines: IL-1β, IL-2, IL-10, IFN-γ, and TNF-α. In PsA synovium, higher levels of IFN-γ, IL-2, and IL-10 have been detected than in psoriatic skin. An analysis of T-cell receptor beta-chain variable (TCRβV) gene repertoires revealed common expansions in both skin and synovial inflammatory sites, suggesting an important role for cognate T-cell responses in the pathogenesis of PsA and that the inciting antigen may be identical or homologous between the afflicted skin and synovium. Traditionally, T-cells have been classified as T helper 1 (Th1) or Th2 cells by production of defining cytokines, IFN-γ and IL-4, respectively. Recently, a new type of T-cell, Th17, has been linked to autoimmune inflammation. T-helper 17 (Th17) cells are a unique effector CD4+ T-cell subset characterized by the production of interleukin (IL)-17. Murine diseases that were previously considered to be pure Th1-mediated responses have been shown to contain mixed populations of Th1 and Th17 cells. Also, in humans, a critical immunoregulatory role of Th-17 cells in infectious and autoimmune diseases has been identified. It has been postulated that IL-17 may be important in psoriasis. Our initial observations demonstrate that IL-17 and its receptor system are important for PsA also. In in vivo and in vitro studies we have demonstrated that IL-17/IL-17R are enriched in skin, synovial tissue, and synovial fluid of psoriatic arthritis patients and Th17 cells are functionally significant in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Here we will share our experience of the SCID mouse model of psoriasis in respect to its use in investigating psoriatic diseases and development of immune-based drugs for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC2887521  PMID: 20606886
Novel therapy; psoriasis; psoriatic arthritis; SCID mouse; Th17 cell
4.  The roles of IFN-γ versus IL-17 in Pathogenic Effects of Human Th17 Cells on Synovial Fibroblasts 
Modern rheumatology / the Japan Rheumatism Association  2013;23(6):10.1007/s10165-012-0811-x.
Th17 cells, while indispensable in host defense, may play pathogenic roles in many autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the mechanisms by which human Th17 cells drive autoimmunity have not been fully defined. We assessed the potential of the human Th17 CD4 T cell subset to induce expression of cell-cell interaction molecules and inflammatory mediators by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), and the roles of.IFN-γ and IL-17 in these interactions.
Th1 or Th17 cells were induced from healthy adult donor CD4 T cells and were co-cultured with FLS for 48 hours with/without neutralization of IFN-γ, IL-17A, or both. Alternatively, FLS were treated only with IFN-γ or IL-17 for 48 hours. FLS expression of CD40, CD54, and MHC-II, as well as IL-6 and IL-8 secretion were assessed by surface staining followed by flow cytometry and ELISA respectively.
Both Th1 and Th17 cells secreted IL-17 as well as IFN-γ, although IFN-γ production was much greater from Th1 cells. FLS expression of CD40, CD54, and MHC-II significantly increased upon co-culture with either Th1 or Th17 cells, and was largely due to the IFN-γ secreted by the T cells. Both T cell subsets induced IL-6 and IL-8 secretion by RA FLS. Neutralization of IL-17A did not reduce FLS expression of CD40, MHC-II or CD54, but did inhibit IL-6 and IL-8 secretion. Although IFN-γ was a weak inducer of IL-6 secretion and significantly inhibited IL-8 secretion from FLS when used as a single stimulus, neutralization of IFN-γ inhibited induction of FLS secretion of both cytokines in Th17/FLS co-cultures. The effects of Th17 cells on FLS were not entirely accounted for by IL-17 and IFN-γ, suggesting roles for additional cytokines secreted by these cells.
FLS cell-cell interaction molecules and soluble inflammatory mediators are differentially regulated by IFN-γ and IL-17, cytokines that are secreted by both human Th1 and Th17 cells. The effects of IFN-γ may depend in part on the particular milieu of other co-existing cytokines and cell-cell interaction signals. The potential benefit of therapeutic neutralization of either IL-17 or IFN-γ could depend on the relative proportion of these cytokines in the synovial compartment of an RA patient. Suppression of the differentiation of Th17 cells may hold more therapeutic potential than neutralization of a single cytokine produced by CD4 T cells.
PMCID: PMC3710715  PMID: 23306426
Rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocytes; Fibroblast-like synoviocytes; Pathogenicity; IFN-γ; IL-17; cell-cell interaction molecules; IL-6; IL-8; IL-4
5.  T cells that are naturally tolerant to cartilage-derived type II collagen are involved in the development of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):315-326.
The immunodominant T-cell epitope that is involved in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is the glycosylated type II collagen (CII) peptide 256-270. In CII transgenic mice, which express the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, the CII-specific T cells are characterized by a partially tolerant state with low proliferative activity in vitro, but with maintained effector functions, such as IFN-γ secretion and ability to provide B cell help. These mice were still susceptible to CIA. The response was mainly directed to the glycosylated form of the CII 256-270 peptide, rather than to the nonglycosylated peptide. Tolerance induction was rapid; transferred T cells encountered CII within a few days. CII immunization several weeks after thymectomy of the mice did not change their susceptibility to arthritis or the induction of partial T-cell tolerance, excluding a role for recent thymic emigrants. Thus, partially tolerant CII autoreactive T cells are maintained and are crucial for the development of CIA.
A discussion is ongoing regarding the possible role of cartilage-directed autoimmunity as a part of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One possibility is that the association of RA with shared epitope-expressing DR molecules reflects a role for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules as peptide receptors, and that the predilection of the inflammatory attack for the joint indicates a role for cartilage as a source of the antigenic peptides. A direct role for CII in the development of arthritis is apparent in the CIA model, in which a definite role for MHC class II molecules and a role for CII-derived peptides have been demonstrated [1,2,3]. Remarkably, it was found that the identified MHC class II molecule in the CIA model Aq has a structurally similar peptide binding pocket to that of the shared epitope, expressing DR4 molecules [4]. In fact, DR4 (DRB1*0401) and DR1 (DRB1*0101) transgenic mice are susceptible to CIA because of an immune response to a peptide that is almost identical to that which is involved in Aq-expressing mice [5,6]. They are both derived from position 260-273 of the CII molecule; the peptide binds to the Aqmolecule with isoleucine 260 in the P1 pocket, but with phenylalanine 263 in the P1 pocket of the DR4 and DR1 molecules.
Although these findings do not prove a role for CII in RA, they show that such recognition is possible and that there are structural similarities when comparing mouse with human. However, there are also strong arguments against such a possibility. First, arthritis can evolve without evidence for a cartilage-specific autoimmunity, as seen with various adjuvant-induced arthritis models [7,8] and in several observations using transgenic animals with aberrant immunity to ubiquitously expressed proteins [9,10,11]. Moreover, the MHC association in the adjuvant arthritis models correlates with severity of the disease rather than susceptibility [7,8], as has also been observed in RA [12]. Second, it has not been possible to identify the CII-reactive T cells from RA joints, or to achieve a strong and significant CII proliferative response from T cells derived from RA joints. Most recently these negative observations were corroborated using DR4+CII peptide tetramer reagents [13]. On the other hand, it has also been difficult to isolate autoreactive CII-specific T cells from CIA, and it can be anticipated that, even in the CIA model, T cells that are specific for CII will be hard to find in the joints [4].
We believe that the explanations for these observations in both experimental animals and humans are related to tolerance. The CIA model in the mouse is usually induced with heterologous CII, and is critically dependent on an immune response to the glycosylated CII peptide 256-270, which is bound to the MHC class II Aq molecule. In CII transgenic mice, expressing the heterologous (rat) form of the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, we observed partial T-cell tolerance. This tolerance is characterized by a low proliferative activity, but with maintained effector functions such as production of IFN-γ and the ability to give help to B cells to produce anti-CII IgG antibodies [14]. Interestingly, these mice were susceptible to arthritis. However, a possibility was that T cells that had newly emerged from the thymus and that were not yet tolerized when the mice were immunized with CII led to the induction of arthritis. We have now addressed this possibility and found that induction of tolerance occurs within a few days, and that mice lacking recent thymic emigrants (ie thymectomized mice) display partially tolerant T cells and susceptibility to arthritis to the same extent as nonthymectomized mice. In addition we found that T cells that are reactive with the nonmodified peptides are relatively more affected by tolerance than T cells that are reactive with the more immunodominant glycosylated variants.
To investigate the possibility that T cells that are naturally tolerant to the cartilage protein CII are involved in the development of arthritis, and to exclude a role for nontolerized recent thymic T-cell emigrants in the development of arthritis.
Materials and methods:
A mutated mouse CII, expressing glutamic acid instead of aspartic acid at position 266, was expressed in a transgenic mouse called MMC (mutated mouse collagen) that has been described earlier [14]. The mice were thymectomized, or sham-operated, at 7 weeks of age and allowed to recover for 4 weeks before being immunized with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant. Arthritis development was recorded and sera analyzed for anti-CII IgG, IgG1 and IgG2a levels. To assay T-cell effector functions, other MMC and control mice were immunized in the hind footpads with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant, and the draining popliteal lymph nodes were taken 10 days later. The lymph node cells (LNCs) were used for proliferation assay, IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and B-cell enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT). For the proliferation assay, 106 cells were put in triplicate cultures in microtitre wells together with antigen and incubated for 72h before thymidine-labelling and harvesting 15-18h later. For IFN-γ ELISA analysis, supernatant from the proliferation plates was removed before harvesting and used in an ELISA to quantify the amount of IFN-γ produced [15]. B-cell ELISPOT was performed to enumerate the number of cells producing anti-CII IgG [16].
T-cell lines that were reactive towards rat CII were established by immunization with rat CII. An established T-cell line that was reactive with CII and specific for the CII 256-270 peptide was restimulated with freshly collected, irradiated, syngenic spleen cells and rat CII for 3 days followed by 2 weeks of IL-2 containing medium. Immediately before transfer, the cells were labelled with the cytoplasmic dye 5 (and 6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) [17]. Labelled cells (107) were injected intravenously into transgenic MMC mice and nontransgenic littermates. The mice were killed 4 days after cell transfer, and the concentration of CFSE-labelled cells was determined by flow cytometry.
Results and discussion:
To investigate whether and how quickly CII-reactive T cells will encounter CII in vivo, an established T-cell line that is reactive towards rat CII was labelled with the cytoplasmic dye CFSE and transferred into MMC-QD and control mice. Four days later the mice were killed, and it was found that MMC-transgenic mice had dramatically fewer CFSE-labelled cells in the spleen than did nontransgenic littermates (0.11% compared with 0.57%). Similarly, reduced numbers of CFSE-positive cells were observed in blood. This indicates that the T cells encountered the mutated CII that was present in the cartilage of MMC mice, but not in the nontransgenic littermates. Presumably, CII from cartilage is spread by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) to peripheral lymphoid organs. This observation also suggests that newly exported T cells from the thymus will be tolerized to CII in the periphery within less than 4 days.
To further investigate whether the MMC mice harbours naïve or tolerized T cells, the mice were immunized with CII at different time points after thymectomy that were well in excess of the times required for their encounter with CII. After 10 days, the response was analyzed in vitro towards both the nonglycosylated and the glycosylated CII 256-270 peptides as well as towards purified protein derivative. The galactosylated form of the peptide (Fig. 1) was used because this is the most immunodominant modification [18]. In contrast to control mice, LNCs from transgenic mice did not proliferate significantly towards the nonglycosylated peptide, indicating that these cells have been specifically tolerized, which is in accordance with earlier observations [14]. A reduced, but still significant proliferation was also observed toward the immunodominant glycosylated CII peptide. Most important, however, was that the proliferative response in the MMC mice did not decrease after thymectomy. Similarly, a significant IFN-γ production towards the glycosylated CII peptide was observed in the MMC mice. The response was somewhat reduced compared with that observed in nontransgenic littermates, and this was especially true for the response toward the nonglycosylated peptide. Again, no decrease in the MMC response by thymectomy was observed. Taken together, the T-cell response in transgenic mice was reduced in comparison with that in the nontransgenic littermates. Furthermore, the response in transgenic animals did not decrease by thymectomy (4 or 8 weeks before immunization), showing that autoreactive T cells are still maintained (and partially tolerized) with significant effector functions at least up to 8 weeks after thymectomy, excluding a exclusive role for recent thymic emigrants in the autoimmune response towards CII. To investigate whether thymectomized mice, lacking recent CII-specific thymic emigrants, were susceptible to CIA, mice were immunized with CII 4 weeks after thymectomy and were observed for arthritis development during the following 10 weeks. Clearly, the thymectomized MMC mice were susceptible to arthritis (five out of 18 developed arthritis; Fig. 2), and no significant differences in susceptibility between thymectomized and sham-operated mice, or between males and females, were seen. In accordance with earlier results [14], MMC transgenic mice had a significantly reduced susceptibility to arthritis as compared with the nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001 for arthritic scores, disease onset and incidence). All mice were bled at 35 days after immunization, and the total levels of anti-CII IgG were determined. Transgenic mice developed levels of anti-CII IgG significantly above background, but the antibody titres were lower than in nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001). No effect on the antibody levels by thymectomy was observed, nor did thethymectomy affect the distribution of IgG1 versus IgG2a titres,indicating that the observed tolerance is not associated with a shift from a T-helper-1- to a T-helper-2-like immune response. These findings show that T cells that are specific for a tissue-specific matrix protein, CII, are partially tolerized within a few days after thymus export and that these tolerized cells are maintained after thymectomy. Most important, mice that lack newly exported CII reactive T cells are still susceptible to CIA, suggesting that the partially tolerant T cells are involved in development of arthritis.
In the light of these data it is possible to explain some of the findings in RA. T-cell reactivity to CII has been shown in RA patients, but with a very weak proliferative activity [19,20]. This is fully compatible with observations in mouse and rat CIA when autologous CII, and not heterologous CII, are used for immunization. This is particularly true if the responses are recorded during the chronic phase of disease, in which the antigen-specific T-cell responses seem to be suppressed in both humans and experimental animals. These observations were confirmed in a recent report [21] in which it was shown that CII-reactive T-cell activity could be detected in RA patients if IFN-γ production but not proliferation was measured. In the present studies in mice the strongest response is seen towards post-translational modifications of the peptide. Because the T-cell contact points are the same whether the peptide is bound to DR4 or to Aq, it is fully possible that post-translational modifications of the peptide also plays a significant role in humans [22]. The fact that IgG antibodies specific for CII are found in many RA patients could be explained by maintained B-cell helper functions of CII-reactive T cells. In fact, it has been reported [23,24] that the occurrence of IgG antibodies to CII is associated with shared epitope DR4 molecules. These observations are thus compatible with a role for CII reactivity in RA. To avoid any confusion, it needs to be stressed that RA is a heterogeneous syndrome in which not only CII, but also other cartilage proteins and other mechanisms are of importance. Such a pathogenic heterogeneity is reflected by the multitude of experimental animal models that have demonstrated how many different pathways may lead to arthritis [25].
PMCID: PMC17814  PMID: 11056672
autoimmunity; rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocytes; tolerance; transgenic
6.  Interferon alpha inhibits antigen-specific production of proinflammatory cytokines and enhances antigen-specific transforming growth factor beta production in antigen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R143.
Interferon alpha (IFN-α) has a complex role in autoimmunity, in that it may both enhance and prevent inflammation. We have previously shown that the presence of IFN-α at sensitization protects against subsequent antigen-triggered arthritis. To understand this tolerogenic mechanism, we performed a descriptive, hypothesis-generating study of cellular and humoral responses associated with IFN-α-mediated protection against arthritis.
Arthritis was evaluated at day 28 in mice given a subcutaneous injection of methylated bovine serum albumin (mBSA), together with Freund adjuvant and 0 to 5,000 U IFN-α at days 1 and 7, followed by intraarticular injection of mBSA alone at day 21. The effect of IFN-α on mBSA-specific IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b, IgA, and IgE was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Cytokines in circulation and in ex vivo cultures on mBSA restimulation was evaluated with ELISA and Luminex, and the identity of cytokine-producing cells by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis.
Administration of IFN-α protected mice from arthritis in a dose-dependent manner but had no effect on antigen-specific antibody levels. However, IFN-α did inhibit the initial increase of IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, and TNF, and the recall response induced by intraarticular mBSA challenge of IL-1β, IL-10, IL-12, TNF, IFN-γ, and IL-17 in serum. IFN-α decreased both macrophage and CD4+ T cell-derived IFN-γ production, whereas IL-17 was decreased only in CD4+ T cells. Ex vivo, in mBSA-restimulated spleen and lymph node cell cultures, the inhibitory effect of in vivo administration of IFN-α on proinflammatory cytokine production was clearly apparent, but had a time limit. An earlier macrophage-derived, and stronger activation of the antiinflammatory cytokine transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) was observed in IFN-α-treated animals, combined with an increase in CD4+ T cells producing TGF-β when arthritis was triggered by mBSA (day 21). Presence of IFN-α at immunizations also prevented the reduction in TGF-β production, which was induced by the intraarticular mBSA injection triggering arthritis in control animals.
Administration of IFN-α has a profound effect on the cellular response to mBSA plus adjuvant, but does not affect antigen-specific Ig production. By including IFN-α at immunizations, spleen and lymph node cells inhibit their repertoire of antigen-induced proinflammatory cytokines while enhancing antiinflammatory TGF-β production, first in macrophages, and later also in CD4+ T cells. On intraarticular antigen challenge, this antiinflammatory state is reenforced, manifested as inhibition of proinflammatory recall responses and preservation of TGF-β levels. This may explain why IFN-α protects against antigen-induced arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3978460  PMID: 24286140
7.  Targeting of Interferon-Beta to Produce a Specific, Multi-Mechanistic Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e353.
Oncolytic viruses hold much promise for clinical treatment of many cancers, but a lack of systemic delivery and insufficient tumor cell killing have limited their usefulness. We have previously demonstrated that vaccinia virus strains are capable of systemic delivery to tumors in mouse models, but infection of normal tissues remains an issue. We hypothesized that interferon-beta (IFN-β) expression from an oncolytic vaccinia strain incapable of responding to this cytokine would have dual benefits as a cancer therapeutic: increased anticancer effects and enhanced virus inactivation in normal tissues. We report the construction and preclinical testing of this virus.
Methods and Findings
In vitro screening of viral strains by cytotoxicity and replication assay was coupled to cellular characterization by phospho-flow cytometry in order to select a novel oncolytic vaccinia virus. This virus was then examined in vivo in mouse models by non-invasive imaging techniques. A vaccinia B18R deletion mutant was selected as the backbone for IFN-β expression, because the B18R gene product neutralizes secreted type-I IFNs. The oncolytic B18R deletion mutant demonstrated IFN-dependent cancer selectivity and efficacy in vitro, and tumor targeting and efficacy in mouse models in vivo. Both tumor cells and tumor-associated vascular endothelial cells were targeted. Complete tumor responses in preclinical models were accompanied by immune-mediated protection against tumor rechallenge. Cancer selectivity was also demonstrated in primary human tumor explant tissues and adjacent normal tissues. The IFN-β gene was then cloned into the thymidine kinase (TK) region of this virus to create JX-795 (TK−/B18R−/IFN-β+). JX-795 had superior tumor selectivity and systemic intravenous efficacy when compared with the TK−/B18R− control or wild-type vaccinia in preclinical models.
By combining IFN-dependent cancer selectivity with IFN-β expression to optimize both anticancer effects and normal tissue antiviral effects, we were able to achieve, to our knowledge for the first time, tumor-specific replication, IFN-β gene expression, and efficacy following systemic delivery in preclinical models.
Stephen Thorne and colleagues describe, in a mouse model, an oncolytic vaccinia virus with interferon-dependent cancer selectivity that allows tumor-specific replication; it also expresses the IFN-β gene and hence has efficacy against tumors.
Editors' Summary
Normally, throughout life, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are carefully balanced to keep the body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—disorganized masses of cells. Cancers can develop anywhere in the body and, as they develop, their cells acquire other genetic changes that enable them to move and start new tumors (metastases) elsewhere. Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cancer cells but, because some normal cells are also sensitive to these drugs, it is hard to destroy the cancer without causing serious side effects. Consequently, researchers are trying to develop “targeted” therapies that attack the changes in cancer cells that allow them to divide uncontrollably but leave normal cells unscathed. One promising class of targeted therapies is oncolytic viruses. These viruses make numerous copies of themselves inside cancer cells (but not inside normal cells). Eventually the cancer cell bursts open (lyses), releases more of the therapeutic agent, and dies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Existing oncolytic viruses have two major disadvantages: they have to be injected directly into tumors, and therefore they can't destroy distant metastases; and they don't kill cancer cells particularly efficiently. In this study, the researchers have tried to adapt vaccinia virus (a virus that infects humans and which has recently been shown to kill tumor cells when injected into the bloodstream) in two ways: to both infect cancer cells selectively and then to kill them effectively.
They hypothesized that putting a gene that causes expression of a protein called interferon-beta (IFN-β) in a particular virus strain that is itself incapable of responding to IFN-β might achieve these aims. Human cells infected with viruses usually release IFNs, which induce an antiviral state in nearby cells. But vaccinia virus makes anti-IFN proteins that prevent IFN release. If the viral genes that encode these proteins are removed from the virus, the virus cannot spread through normal cells. However, many cancer cells have defective IFN signaling pathways so the virus can spread through them. IFN-β expression by the virus, however, should improve its innate anticancer effects because IFN-β stops cancer cells dividing, induces an antitumor immune response, and stops tumors developing good blood supplies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected a vaccinia virus strain called WR-delB18R in which the B18R gene, which encodes an anti-IFN protein, had been removed from the virus. (WR is a wild-type virus.) In laboratory experiments, IFN treatment blocked the spread of WR-delB18R in normal human cells but not in human tumor cells. After being injected into the veins of tumor-bearing mice, WR-delB18R was rapidly cleared from normal tissues but persisted in the tumors. A single injection of WR-delB18R directly into the tumor killed most of the tumor cells. A similar dose injected into a vein was less effective but nevertheless increased the survival time of some of the mice by directly killing the tumor cells, by targeting the blood supply of the tumors, and by inducing antitumor immunity. Finally, when the researchers inserted the IFN-β gene into this WR-delB18R, the new virus—JX-795—was much better at killing tumors after intravenous injection than either WR or WR-delB18R.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the vaccinia virus can be adapted so that it replicates only in tumor cells and kills these cells effectively after intravenous injection. In particular, they show that the strategy adopted by the researchers both optimizes the anticancer effects of the virus and minimizes viral replication in normal tissues. JX-795 is a promising oncolytic virus, therefore, particularly since vaccinia virus has been safely used for many years to vaccinate people against smallpox. Nevertheless, it will be some years before JX-795 can be used clinically. Vaccinia virus constructs like this need to be tested extensively in the laboratory and in animals before any attempt is made to test them in people and, even if they passes all these preclinical tests with flying colors, only clinical trials will reveal whether they can treat human cancer. Several related strains of vaccinia virus are currently undergoing clinical testing.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides information on all aspects of cancer (in English and Spanish)
CancerQuest, from Emory University, provides information on all aspects of cancer (in several languages)
The UK charity Cancerbackup also provides information on all aspects of cancer
Wikipedia has a page on oncolytic viruses (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
A short interview about oncolytic viruses with researcher Dr. John Bell is available on the Insidermedicine Web site
The Oncolytic virus Web page provides lists of oncolytic viruses classified by type
PMCID: PMC2222946  PMID: 18162040
8.  IFN-γ Mediates the Rejection of Haematopoietic Stem Cells in IFN-γR1-Deficient Hosts 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e26.
Interferon-γ receptor 1 (IFN-γR1) deficiency is a life-threatening inherited disorder, conferring predisposition to mycobacterial diseases. Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the only curative treatment available, but is hampered by a very high rate of graft rejection, even with intra-familial HLA-identical transplants. This high rejection rate is not seen in any other congenital disorders and remains unexplained. We studied the underlying mechanism in a mouse model of HSCT for IFN-γR1 deficiency.
Methods and Findings
We demonstrated that HSCT with cells from a syngenic C57BL/6 Ifngr1+/+ donor engrafted well and restored anti-mycobacterial immunity in naive, non-infected C57BL/6 Ifngr1−/− recipients. However, Ifngr1−/− mice previously infected with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) rejected HSCT. Like infected IFN-γR1-deficient humans, infected Ifngr1−/− mice displayed very high serum IFN-γ levels before HSCT. The administration of a recombinant IFN-γ-expressing AAV vector to Ifngr1−/− naive recipients also resulted in HSCT graft rejection. Transplantation was successful in Ifngr1−/− × Ifng−/− double-mutant mice, even after BCG infection. Finally, efficient antibody-mediated IFN-γ depletion in infected Ifngr1−/− mice in vivo allowed subsequent engraftment.
High serum IFN-γ concentration is both necessary and sufficient for graft rejection in IFN-γR1-deficient mice, inhibiting the development of heterologous, IFN-γR1-expressing, haematopoietic cell lineages. These results confirm that IFN-γ is an anti-haematopoietic cytokine in vivo. They also pave the way for HSCT management in IFN-γR1-deficient patients through IFN-γ depletion from the blood. They further raise the possibility that depleting IFN-γ may improve engraftment in other settings, such as HSCT from a haplo-identical or unrelated donor.
Claire Soudais and colleagues investigated the mechanism of rejection of hematopoietic stem cell transplants in patients with interferon-gamma receptor 1 (IFN-γR1) deficiency and show that IFN-γ is an anti-hematopoietic cytokine in vivo.
Editors' Summary
Normally, the body's immune system efficiently recognizes and kills bacteria and viruses, but in some rare inherited disorders (“primary immunodeficiencies”) part of the immune system works poorly or is missing. This leaves affected individuals susceptible to infections. People with one of these disorders—interferon-gamma receptor 1 (IFN- γR1) deficiency—are very susceptible to infections with mycobacteria. Except for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. leprae (which cause tuberculosis and leprosy, respectively), mycobacteria rarely cause human disease. However, most people with IFN-γR1 deficiency die during childhood from multiple, widespread mycobacterial infections, because IFN-γR1 deficiency disables a specific part of their immune system. When most bacteria enter the body, immune system cells called macrophages engulf and kill them, but mycobacteria actually multiply inside macrophages. This infection stimulates lymphocytes and other immune system cells to release IFN-γ, which binds to IFN-γR1 on uninfected macrophages, activates them, and recruits them to the infection site. Here, they form a “granuloma,” a mass of macrophages and activated lymphocytes that “walls off” the infection. Granuloma formation does not occur in patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency, so mycobacteria (including the usually benign tuberculosis vaccination strain M. bovis BCG) spread throughout the body with disastrous consequences.
Why Was This Study Done?
The only effective treatment for patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). HSCs are the source of all the immune system cells, so transplantation of HSCs from a donor with a normal IFNGR1 gene can provide a patient who has IFN-γR1 deficiency with a new immune system that can combat mycobacterial infections. Unfortunately, in this particular immune deficiency, the new HSCs cannot engraft, even when the patient's own immune system is disabled before HSCT by intensive chemotherapy, and when the donor cells come from a close relative and are a good immunological match. In this study, the researchers have investigated why rejection is so common in IFN-γR1 deficiency using a mouse strain called C57BL/6 Ifngr1−/−—C57BL/6 denotes the genetic background of these mice and Ifngr1−/− indicates that, like human patients, these mice make no IFN-γR1.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Ifngr1−/− mice, the researchers report, cannot control M. bovis BCG infections and do not form mature granulomas just like human patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency. Wild-type C57BL/6 (Ifngr1+/+) mice, however, rapidly control M. bovis BCG infections and form mature granulomas. Ifngr1+/+ HSC transplanted into mycobacteria-free Ifngr1−/− mice survived well and protected the mice against later mycobacterial challenge but Ifngr1−/− mice infected with M. bovis BCG before HSCT rejected the transplanted HSCs. Mycobacteria-infected Ifngr1−/− mice and human patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency have blood high levels of IFN-γ. Could this be responsible for HSCT rejection? To find out, the researchers expressed IFN-γ in uninfected Ifngr1−/− mice before HSCT. As in infected mice, these grafts failed. Conversely, transplanted HSCs survived when transplanted into Ifngr1−/− mice that had been genetically altered to express no IFN-γ, even when these mice were infected with M. bovis BCG before transplantation. Finally, when the researchers used antibodies (proteins made by the immune system that recognize specific molecules) to remove circulating IFN-γ from infected Ifngr1−/− mice, HSCT worked well in the animals with the lowest IFN-γ levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that in a mouse model of IFN-γR1 deficiency, high circulating IFN-γ concentrations drive the rejection of transplanted HSCs and prevent the development of antimycobacterial immunity, probably by directly killing the transplanted cells and/or stopping them multiplying. They also suggest how HSCT could be improved in patients with IFN-γR1 deficiency although, as with all animal studies, the situation in people might turn out to be very different. Importantly, antibodies that reduce circulating IFN-γ are already being used to treat other human immune diseases, so the clinical use of these antibodies in patients with IFN-γ deficiency before HSCT is feasible. Finally, the researchers speculate that the use of IFN-γ–depleting antibodies might be beneficial in other situations where HSCT often fails such as when a close relative is not available as a donor. However, this possibility will need to be thoroughly tested in mice before human clinical trials can be started.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
General information about primary immunodeficiencies is available from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) provides information about familial predisposition to mycobacterial disease
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and on interferon-γ (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases Lab focuses on the genetic basis of predicposition or resistance to infectious diseases in humans
PMCID: PMC2214797  PMID: 18232731
9.  Type I and Type III Interferons Drive Redundant Amplification Loops to Induce a Transcriptional Signature in Influenza-Infected Airway Epithelia 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(11):e1003773.
Interferons (IFNs) are a group of cytokines with a well-established antiviral function. They can be induced by viral infection, are secreted and bind to specific receptors on the same or neighbouring cells to activate the expression of hundreds of IFN stimulated genes (ISGs) with antiviral function. Type I IFN has been known for more than half a century. However, more recently, type III IFN (IFNλ, IL-28/29) was shown to play a similar role and to be particularly important at epithelial surfaces. Here we show that airway epithelia, the primary target of influenza A virus, produce both IFN I and III upon infection, and that induction of both depends on the RIG-I/MAVS pathway. While IRF3 is generally regarded as the transcription factor required for initiation of IFN transcription and the so-called “priming loop”, we find that IRF3 deficiency has little impact on IFN expression. In contrast, lack of IRF7 reduced IFN production significantly, and only IRF3−/−IRF7−/− double deficiency completely abolished it. The transcriptional response to influenza infection was largely dependent on IFNs, as it was reduced to a few upregulated genes in epithelia lacking receptors for both type I and III IFN (IFNAR1−/−IL-28Rα−/−). Wild-type epithelia and epithelia deficient in either the type I IFN receptor or the type III IFN receptor exhibit similar transcriptional profiles in response to virus, indicating that none of the induced genes depends selectively on only one IFN system. In chimeric mice, the lack of both IFN I and III signalling in the stromal compartment alone significantly increased the susceptibility to influenza infection. In conclusion, virus infection of airway epithelia induces, via a RIG-I/MAVS/IRF7 dependent pathway, both type I and III IFNs which drive two completely overlapping and redundant amplification loops to upregulate ISGs and protect from influenza infection.
Author Summary
The response of cells to virus infection depends on Interferons (IFNs), a group of cytokines which activate the expression of hundreds of genes that help control viral replication inside infected cells. While type I IFN was discovered in 1957, type III IFN (IFNλ, IL-28/29) was characterized recently and is known for its role in the response to hepatitis C virus. Airway epithelia are the primary target of influenza virus, and we studied how infection induces IFNs and which IFN is most important for the epithelial anti-influenza response. We found that infected epithelia detect virus through the cytoplasmic RIG-I/MAVS recognition system, leading to activation of the transcription factor IRF7 and subsequent induction of both type I and III IFNs. All ensuing cellular responses to infection are dependent on the production and secretion of IFNs, as responses are lost in epithelia lacking receptors for both type I and III IFNs. Finally, gene induction is indistinguishable in single receptor-deficient and wild-type cells, indicating that the two IFN systems are completely redundant in epithelia. Thus, influenza infection of airway epithelia induces, via a RIG-I/MAVS/IRF7 dependent pathway, both type I and III IFNs which drive two overlapping and redundant amplification loops to upregulate antiviral genes.
PMCID: PMC3836735  PMID: 24278020
10.  Location of CD4+ T cell Priming Regulates the Differentiation of Th1 and Th17 cells and their Contribution to Arthritis 
T helper (Th) cytokines IFN-γ and IL-17 are linked to the development of autoimmune disease. In models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) i.e. proteoglycan (PG) -induced arthritis (PGIA), IFN-γ is required whereas in collagen-induced arthritis, IL-17 is necessary for development of arthritis. Here we show that the route of immunization determines the requirement for either IFN-γ or IL-17 in arthritis. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) immunization with PG induces a CD4+ T cell IFN-γ response with little IL-17 in the spleen and peripheral lymph nodes. However, s.c. immunization induces both an IFN-γ and an IL-17 CD4+ T cell response in spleen and LNs. The failure to induce a CD4+ T cell IL-17 response after i.p. immunization is associated with T cell priming as naïve T cells activated in vitro were fully capable of producing IL-17. Moreover, PGIA is converted from an IFN-γ to an IL-17-mediated disease by altering the route of immunization from i.p. to s.c. The histological appearance of joint inflammation (cellular inflammation and bone erosion) are similar in the i.p. versus s.c. immunized mice despite the presence of CD4+ T cells producing IL-17 in joint tissues only after s.c. immunization. These data indicate a critical role for the site of initial T cell priming and the Th cytokines required for susceptibility to arthritis. Our findings suggest that T cell activation at different anatomical sites in RA patients may skew the T cells towards production of either IFN-γ or IL-17.
PMCID: PMC3690552  PMID: 23630349
T cell; Autoimmunity; Rheumatoid Arthritis
11.  IFN-γ production in response to in vitro stimulation with collagen type II in rheumatoid arthritis is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):75-84.
IFN-γ was measured in supernatants after in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with collagen type II (CII), purified protein derivative or influenza virus. IFN-γ production in response to CII was similar in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and healthy control individuals. The IFN-γ response to purified protein derivative and influenza virus was lower in RA patients, reflecting a general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA. After recalculating the response to CII taking this hyporesponsiveness into account the CII response was higher in RA patients, and was associated with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 (HLA-DQ8). Rheumatoid arthritis patients with elevated serum levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-CII antibodies had lower CII-induced IFN-γ production than patients with low anti-CII levels. The relative increase in CII-reactivity in RA patients as compared with healthy control individuals, and the association of a higher response with RA-associated HLA haplotypes, suggest the existence of a potentially pathogenic cellular reactivity against CII in RA.
Despite much work over past decades, whether antigen-specific immune reactions occur in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to what extent such reactions are directed towards joint-specific autoantigens is still questionable. One strong indicator for antigenic involvement in RA is the fact that certain major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genotypes [human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DR4 and HLA-DR1] predispose for the development of the disease [1]. In the present report, collagen type II (CII) was studied as a putative autoantigen on the basis of both clinical and experimental data that show an increased frequency of antibodies to CII in RA patients [2,3,4] and that show that CII can induce experimental arthritis [5].
It is evident from the literature that RA peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) respond poorly to antigenic stimulation [6,7,8], and in particular evidence for a partial tolerization to CII has been presented [9]. The strategy of the present work has accordingly been to reinvestigate T-cell reactivity to CII in RA patients, to relate it to the response to commonly used recall antigens and to analyze IFN-γ responses as an alternative to proliferative responses.
To study cellular immune reactivity to CII in patients with RA and in healthy control individuals and to correlate this reactivity to HLA class II genotypes and to the presence of antibodies to CII in serum.
Forty-five patients who met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for RA [10] and 25 healthy control individuals of similar age and sex were included. Twenty-six of these patients who had low levels of anti-CII in serum were randomly chosen, whereas 19 patients with high anti-CII levels were identified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-screening of 400 RA sera.
Heparinized blood was density gradient separated and PBMCs were cultured at 1 × 106/ml in RPMI-10% fetal calf serum with or without antigenic stimulation: native or denatured CII (100 μ g/ml), killed influenza virus (Vaxigrip, Pasteur Mérieux, Lyon, France; diluted 1 : 1000) or purified protein derivative (PPD; 10 μ g/ml). CII was heat-denatured in 56°C for 30 min.
Cell supernatants were collected after 7days and IFN-γ contents were analyzed using ELISA. HLA-DR and HLA-DQ genotyping was performed utilizing a polymerase chain reaction-based technique with sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe hybridization. Nonparametric statistical analyses were utilized throughout the study.
PBMCs from both RA patients and healthy control individuals responded with inteferon-γ production to the same degree to stimulation with native and denatured CII (Fig. 1a), giving median stimulation indexes with native CII of 4.6 for RA patients and 5.4 for healthy control individuals, and with denatured CII of 2.9 for RA patients and 2.6 for healthy control individuals. RA patients with elevated levels of anti-CII had a weaker IFN-γ response to both native and denatured CII than did healthy control individuals (P = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively).
Stimulation with the standard recall antigens PPD and killed influenza virus yielded a median stimulation index with PPD of 10.0 for RA patients and 51.3 for healthy control individuals and with influenza of 12.3 for RA patients and 25.7 for healthy, control individuals. The RA patients displayed markedly lower responsiveness to both PPD and killed influenza virus than did healthy control individuals (Fig. 1b). IFN-γ responses to all antigens were abrogated when coincubating with antibodies blocking MHC class II.
The low response to PPD and killed influenza virus in RA patients relative to that of healthy control individuals reflects a general downregulation of antigen-induced responsiveness of T cells from RA patients [6,7,8]. That no difference between the RA group and the control group was recorded in CII-induced IFN-γ production therefore indicates that there may be an underlying increased responsiveness to CII in RA patients, which is obscured by the general downregulation of T-cell responsiveness in these patients. In order to address this possibility, we calculated the fraction between individual values for the CII-induced IFN-γ production and the PPD-induced and killed influenza virus-induced IFN-γ production, and compared these fractions. A highly significant difference between the RA and healthy control groups was apparent after stimulation with both native CII and denatured CII when expressing the response as a fraction of that with PPD (Fig. 2a). Similar data were obtained using killed influenza virus-stimulated IFN-γ values as the denominator (Fig. 2b).
When comparing the compensated IFN-γ response to denatured CII stimulation between RA patients with different HLA genotypes, highly significant differences were evident, with HLA-DRB1*0401 patients having greater CII responsiveness than patients who lacked this genotype (Fig. 3a). HLA-DQ8 positive patients also displayed a high responsiveness to CII as compared with HLA-DQ8 negative RA patients (Fig. 3b). These associations between the relative T-cell reactivity to denatured CII and HLA class II genotypes were not seen in healthy control individuals. Similar results were achieved using influenza as denominator (P = 0.02 for HLA-DRB1*0401 and P = 0.01 for HLA-DQ8).
No reports have previously systematically taken the general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA into account when investigating specific T-cell responses in this disease. In order to address this issue we used the T-cell responses to PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens. This was made on the assumption that exposure to these antigens is similar in age-matched and sex-matched groups of RA patients and healthy control individuals. The concept of a general hyporesponsiveness in RA T cells has been documented in several previous reports, in which both nominal antigens [6,7,8] and mitogens [11,12,13] have been used. The fact that a similar functional downregulation in RA PBMCs was obtained with both PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens strengthens the validity of our approach.
We identified an association between the IFN-γ response to CII and HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in the RA patient group, which is of obvious interest because both these MHC class II alleles have been associated with high responsiveness to CII in transgenic mice that express these human MHC class II molecules [14,15]. There was no association between high anti-CII levels and shared epitope (HLA-DRB1*0401 or HLA-DRB1*0404).
CII, a major autoantigen candidate in RA, can elicit an IFN-γ response in vitro that is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in RA patients. This study, with a partly new methodological approach to a classical problem in RA, has provided some additional support to the notion that CII may be a target autoantigen of importance for a substantial group of RA patients. Continued efforts to identify mechanisms behind the general hyporesponsiveness to antigens in RA, as well as the mechanisms behind the potential partial anergy to CII, may provide us with better opportunities to study the specificity and pathophysiological relevance of anti-CII reactivity in RA.
PMCID: PMC17806  PMID: 11219392
collagen type II; human leucocyte antigen-DR; IFN-γ; rheumatoid arthritis; T cell
12.  The interdependent, overlapping and differential roles of type I and type II interferons in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis1 
Type I IFNs (IFN-α and IFN-β) and type II IFN (IFN-γ) mediate both regulation and inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). However the underlying mechanism for these Janus-like activities of type I and II IFNs in neuroinflammation remains unclear. Although endogenous type I IFN-signaling provides a protective response in neuroinflammation, we find that when IFN-γ signaling is ablated, type I IFNs drive inflammation resulting in exacerbated EAE. IFN-γ has disease stage-specific opposing function in EAE. Treatment of mice with IFN-γ during initiation phase of EAE leads to enhanced severity of disease. In contrast, IFN-γ treatment during effector phase attenuated disease. This immunosuppressive activity of IFN-γ required functional type I IFN-signaling. In IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR) deficient mice, IFN-γ treatment during effector phase of EAE exacerbated disease. Using an adoptive transfer-EAE model, we found that T-cell intrinsic type I and type II IFN signals are simultaneously required to establish chronic EAE by encephalitogenic Th1 cells. However in Th17 cells loss of either IFN signals leads to the development of a severe chronic disease. The data implies that type I and type II IFN signals have independent but non-redundant role in restraining encephalitogenic Th17 cells in vivo. Overall our data show that type I and type II IFNs function in an integrated manner to regulate the pathogenesis in EAE.
PMCID: PMC3779698  PMID: 23960239
13.  Interferon γ (IFN-γ) Is Necessary for the Genesis of Acetylcholine Receptor–induced Clinical Experimental Autoimmune Myasthenia gravis in Mice  
Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) is an animal model of human myasthenia gravis (MG). In mice, EAMG is induced by immunization with Torpedo californica acetylcholine receptor (AChR) in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA). However, the role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of EAMG is not clear. Because EAMG is an antibody-mediated disease, it is of the prevailing notion that Th2 but not Th1 cytokines play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. To test the hypothesis that the Th1 cytokine, interferon (IFN)-γ, plays a role in the development of EAMG, we immunized IFN-γ knockout (IFN-gko) (−/−) mice and wild-type (WT) (+/+) mice of H-2b haplotype with AChR in CFA. We observed that AChR-primed lymph node cells from IFN-gko mice proliferated normally to AChR and to its dominant pathogenic α146–162 sequence when compared with these cells from the WT mice. However, the IFN-gko mice had no signs of muscle weakness and remained resistant to clinical EAMG at a time when the WT mice exhibited severe muscle weakness and some died. The resistance of IFN-gko mice was associated with greatly reduced levels of circulating anti-AChR antibody levels compared with those in the WT mice. Comparatively, immune sera from IFN-gko mice showed a dramatic reduction in mouse AChR-specific IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies. However, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)–priming of IFN-gko mice readily elicited both T cell and antibody responses, suggesting that IFN-γ regulates the humoral immune response distinctly to self (AChR) versus foreign (KLH) antigens. We conclude that IFN-γ is required for the generation of a pathogenic anti-AChR humoral immune response and for conferring susceptibility of mice to clinical EAMG.
PMCID: PMC2198999  PMID: 9236190
14.  Interferon (IFN) beta acts downstream of IFN-gamma-induced class II transactivator messenger RNA accumulation to block major histocompatibility complex class II gene expression and requires the 48- kD DNA-binding protein, ISGF3-gamma 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1995;182(5):1517-1525.
Interferon (IFN) gamma, a cardinal proinflammatory cytokine, induces expression of the gene products of the class II locus of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), whereas IFN-alpha or -beta suppresses MHC class II expression. The mechanism of IFN-beta-mediated MHC class II inhibition has been unclear. Recently, a novel factor termed class II transactivator (CIITA) has been identified as essential for IFN- gamma-induced MHC class II transcription. We studied the status of IFN- gamma-induced CIITA messenger RNA (mRNA) accumulation and CIITA-driven transactivation in IFN-beta-treated cells and used cell lines that had defined defects in the type I IFN response pathway to address the roles of IFN signaling components in the inhibition of MHC class II induction. IFN-beta treatment did not suppress IFN-gamma-induced accumulation of CIITA mRNA. After cells were stably transfected with CIITA, endogenous MHC class II genes were constitutively expressed, and MHC class II promoters, delivered by transfection, were actively transcribed in CIITA-expressing cells. Expression of these promoters was significantly impaired by pretreatment with IFN-beta. These results suggest that IFN-beta acts downstream of CIITA mRNA accumulation, and acts in part by reducing the functional competence of CIITA for transactivating MHC class II promoters. IFN stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3) gamma was essential for IFN-beta to mediate inhibition of MHC class II induction, regardless of whether MHC class II transcription was stimulated by IFN-gamma or directly by CIITA expression. Results of these experiments suggest that inhibition of MHC class II in IFN-beta- treated cells requires expression of gene(s) directed by the ISGF3-IFN- stimulated response element pathway, and that these gene product(s) may act by blocking CIITA-driven transcription of MHC class II promoters.
PMCID: PMC2192209  PMID: 7595221
15.  Harnessing Mechanistic Knowledge on Beneficial Versus Deleterious IFN-I Effects to Design Innovative Immunotherapies Targeting Cytokine Activity to Specific Cell Types 
Type I interferons (IFN-I) were identified over 50 years ago as cytokines critical for host defense against viral infections. IFN-I promote anti-viral defense through two main mechanisms. First, IFN-I directly reinforce or induce de novo in potentially all cells the expression of effector molecules of intrinsic anti-viral immunity. Second, IFN-I orchestrate innate and adaptive anti-viral immunity. However, IFN-I responses can be deleterious for the host in a number of circumstances, including secondary bacterial or fungal infections, several autoimmune diseases, and, paradoxically, certain chronic viral infections. We will review the proposed nature of protective versus deleterious IFN-I responses in selected diseases. Emphasis will be put on the potentially deleterious functions of IFN-I in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, and on the respective roles of IFN-I and IFN-III in promoting resolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We will then discuss how the balance between beneficial versus deleterious IFN-I responses is modulated by several key parameters including (i) the subtypes and dose of IFN-I produced, (ii) the cell types affected by IFN-I, and (iii) the source and timing of IFN-I production. Finally, we will speculate how integration of this knowledge combined with advanced biochemical manipulation of the activity of the cytokines should allow designing innovative immunotherapeutic treatments in patients. Specifically, we will discuss how induction or blockade of specific IFN-I responses in targeted cell types could promote the beneficial functions of IFN-I and/or dampen their deleterious effects, in a manner adapted to each disease.
PMCID: PMC4214202  PMID: 25400632
type I interferons; dendritic cells; chronic viral infections; immunotherapy; bioengineering
16.  Type 1 Interferon Induction of Natural Killer Cell Gamma Interferon Production for Defense during Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Infection 
mBio  2011;2(4):e00169-11.
Natural killer (NK) cells are equipped to innately produce the cytokine gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in part because they basally express high levels of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4). Type 1 interferons (IFNs) have the potential to activate STAT4 and promote IFN-γ expression, but concurrent induction of elevated STAT1 negatively regulates access to the pathway. As a consequence, it has been difficult to detect type 1 IFN stimulation of NK cell IFN-γ during viral infections in the presence of STAT1 and to understand the evolutionary advantage for maintaining the pathway. The studies reported here evaluated NK cell responses following infections with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) in the compartment handling the earliest events after infection, the peritoneal cavity. The production of type 1 IFNs, both IFN-α and IFN-β, was shown to be early and of short duration, peaking at 30 h after challenge. NK cell IFN-γ expression was detected with overlapping kinetics and required activating signals delivered through type 1 IFN receptors and STAT4. It took place under conditions of high STAT4 levels but preceded elevated STAT1 expression in NK cells. The IFN-γ response reduced viral burdens. Interestingly, increases in STAT1 were delayed in NK cells compared to other peritoneal exudate cell (PEC) populations. Taken together, the studies demonstrate a novel mechanism for stimulating IFN-γ production and elucidate a biological role for type 1 IFN access to STAT4 in NK cells.
Pathways regulating the complex and sometimes paradoxical effects of cytokines are poorly understood. Accumulating evidence indicates that the biological consequences of type 1 interferon (IFN) exposure are shaped by modifying the concentrations of particular STATs to change access to the different signaling molecules. The results of the experiments presented conclusively demonstrate that NK cell IFN-γ can be induced through type 1 IFN and STAT4 at the first site of infection during a period with high STAT4 but prior to induction of elevated STAT1 in the cells. The response mediates a role in viral defense. Thus, a very early pathway to and source of IFN-γ in evolving immune responses to infections are identified by this work. The information obtained helps resolve long-standing controversies and advances the understanding of mechanisms regulating key type 1 IFN functions, in different cells and compartments and at different times of infection, for accessing biologically important functions.
PMCID: PMC3150756  PMID: 21828218
17.  Yin and yang interplay of IFN-γ in inflammation and autoimmune disease 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(4):871-873.
IFN-γ has long been recognized as a signature proinflammatory cytokine that plays a central role in inflammation and autoimmune disease. There is now emerging evidence indicating that IFN-γ possesses unexpected properties as a master regulator of immune responses and inflammation. In this issue of the JCI, Guillonneau et al. show that indefinite allograft survival induced by CD40Ig treatment is mediated by CD8+CD45RClow T cells through the production of IFN-γ (see the related article beginning on page 1096), supporting the emerging view that IFN-γ is critical in the self-regulation of inflammation. These contradictory roles of IFN-γ, perhaps best understood by the principle of yin and yang, represent one of nature’s paradoxes, whereby the same cytokine functions as an inducer as well as a regulator for inflammation. Understanding this complex process of IFN-γ signaling is essential, as it has therapeutic implications.
PMCID: PMC1838954  PMID: 17404615
18.  Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of Interferons 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(4):1162-1186.
Interferons (IFNs) are class II cytokines that are key components of the innate immune response to virus infection. Three IFN sub-families, type I, II, and III IFNs have been identified in man, Recombinant analogues of type I IFNs, in particular IFNα2 and IFNβ1, have found wide application for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis and remitting relapsing multiple sclerosis respectively. Type II IFN, or IFN gamma, is used principally for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease, while the recently discovered type III IFNs, also known as IFN lambda or IL-28/29, are currently being evaluated for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. IFNs are in general well tolerated and the most common adverse events observed with IFNα or IFNβ therapy are “flu-like” symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, and myalgia. Prolonged treatment is associated with more serious adverse events including leucopenia, thrombocytopenia, increased hepatic transaminases, and neuropsychiatric effects. Type I IFNs bind to high-affinity cell surface receptors, composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFNAR1 and IFNAR2, resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Tyk2, phosphorylation and activation of the latent cytoplasmic signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT1) and STAT2, formation of a transcription complex together with IRF9, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating the biological activities of type I IFNs. Systemic administration of type I IFN results in activation of IFN receptors present on essentially all types of nucleated cells, including neurons and hematopoietic stem cells, in addition to target cells. This may well explain the wide spectrum of IFN associated toxicities. Recent reports suggest that certain polymorphisms in type I IFN signaling molecules are associated with IFN-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C. IFNγ binds to a cell-surface receptor composed of two transmembrane polypeptides IFGR1 and IFGR2 resulting in activation of the Janus kinases Jak1 and Jak2, phosphorylation of STAT1, formation of STAT1 homodimers, and activation of a specific set of genes that encode the effector molecules responsible for mediating its biological activity. In common with type I IFNs, IFNγ receptors are ubiquitous and a number of the genes activated by IFNγ are also activated by type I IFNs that may well account for a spectrum of toxicities similar to that associated with type I IFNs including “flu-like” symptoms, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased hepatic transaminases. Although type III IFNs share the major components of the signal transduction pathway and activate a similar set of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) as type I IFNs, distribution of the IFNλ receptor is restricted to certain cell types suggesting that IFNλ therapy may be associated with a reduced spectrum of toxicities relative to type I or type II IFNs. Repeated administration of recombinant IFNs can cause in a break in immune tolerance to self-antigens in some patients resulting in the production of neutralizing antibodies (NABs) to the recombinant protein homologue. Appearance of NABs is associated with reduced pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and a reduced clinical response. The lack of cross-neutralization of IFNβ by anti-IFNα NABs and vice versa, undoubtedly accounts for the apparent lack of toxicity associated with the presence of anti-IFN NABs with the exception of relatively mild infusion/injection reactions.
PMCID: PMC4034027
cytokines; interferons; interleukins; innate immunity; Toll-like receptors
19.  Junín Virus Infection Activates the Type I Interferon Pathway in a RIG-I-Dependent Manner 
Junín virus (JUNV), an arenavirus, is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever, an infectious human disease with 15–30% case fatality. The pathogenesis of AHF is still not well understood. Elevated levels of interferon and cytokines are reported in AHF patients, which might be correlated to the severity of the disease. However the innate immune response to JUNV infection has not been well evaluated. Previous studies have suggested that the virulent strain of JUNV does not induce IFN in human macrophages and monocytes, whereas the attenuated strain of JUNV was found to induce IFN response in murine macrophages via the TLR-2 signaling pathway. In this study, we investigated the interaction between JUNV and IFN pathway in human epithelial cells highly permissive to JUNV infection. We have determined the expression pattern of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and IFN-β at both mRNA and protein levels during JUNV infection. Our results clearly indicate that JUNV infection activates the type I IFN response. STAT1 phosphorylation, a downstream marker of activation of IFN signaling pathway, was readily detected in JUNV infected IFN-competent cells. Our studies also demonstrated for the first time that RIG-I was required for IFN production during JUNV infection. IFN activation was detected during infection by either the virulent or attenuated vaccine strain of JUNV. Curiously, both virus strains were relatively insensitive to human IFN treatment. Our studies collectively indicated that JUNV infection could induce host type I IFN response and provided new insights into the interaction between JUNV and host innate immune system, which might be important in future studies on vaccine development and antiviral treatment.
Author Summary
Junín virus (JUNV), which is endemic to the Argentinean Pampas region, is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF), a severe illness with hemorrhagic and neurological manifestations and with a case fatality of 15–30%. Clinical studies demonstrate that elevated levels of interferon and cytokines are produced in AHF patients, which might be correlated to the severity of disease. However it remains unclear, especially during virus infection, how human cells can sense virus infection and respond by activation of IFN pathway. Our studies clearly demonstrated that JUNV infection could activate type I IFN response in human cells. IFN pathway activation occurred in cells infected with either virulent strain or attenuated vaccine strain of JUNV. Our data also revealed for the first time that RIG-I was required for type I IFN production during virus infection in human cells. Interestingly, both strains of JUNV were relatively insensitive to human IFN treatment, which might have implications for the role of the IFN on virus infection in vivo. Overall, these results indicate that JUNV infection could induce host IFN response and provide new insights into JUNV and host interaction as well as the mechanism underlying AHF.
PMCID: PMC3358329  PMID: 22629479
20.  Inhibition of interleukin-12 production by auranofin, an anti-rheumatic gold compound, deviates CD4+ T cells from the Th1 to the Th2 pathway 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2001;134(3):571-578.
Interleukin-12 (IL-12) may play a central role in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis by driving the immune response towards T helper 1 (Th1) type responses characterized by high IFN-γ and low IL-4 production. In this study we investigated the effect of auranofin (AF), an anti-rheumatic gold compound, on IL-12 production in mouse macrophages and dendritic cells, and studied whether AF-mediated inhibition of IL-12 production could regulate a cytokine profile of antigen (Ag)-primed CD4+ Th cells.Treatment with AF significantly inhibited IL-12 production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages and also in CD40L-stimulated dendritic cells. AF-pretreated macrophages reduced their ability to induce IFN-γ and increased the ability to induce IL-4 in Ag-primed CD4+ T cells. AF did not influence the cell surface expression of the class II MHC molecule and the costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86.Addition of recombinant IL-12 to cultures of AF-pretreated macrophages and CD4+ T cells restored IFN-γ production in Ag-primed CD4+ T cells.The in vivo administration of AF resulted in the inhibition of IL-12 production by macrophages stimulated in vitro with LPS or heat-killed Listeria monocytogenes (HKL), leading to the inhibition of Th1 cytokine profile (decreased IFN-γ and increased IL-4 production) in Ag-primed CD4+ T cells.These findings may explain some known effects of AF including anti-rheumatic effects and the inhibition of encephalitogenicity, and point to a possible therapeutic use of AF in the Th1-mediated immune diseases such as autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC1572992  PMID: 11588111
Auranofin; rheumatoid arthritis; interleukin-12; macrophage; T helper cell
21.  Differential tumor necrosis factor alpha expression by astrocytes from experimental allergic encephalomyelitis-susceptible and -resistant rat strains 
There is evidence that the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF- alpha) contributes to the pathogenesis of neurological autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). TNF-alpha exerts damaging effects on oligodendrocytes, the myelin-producing cell of the central nervous system (CNS), and myelin itself. We have recently demonstrated TNF- alpha expression from astrocytes induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma), and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta). Astrocytes secrete TNF-alpha in response to LPS alone, and can be primed by IFN-gamma to enhance LPS-induced TNF-alpha production. IFN- gamma and IL-1 beta, cytokines known to be present in the CNS during neurological disease states, do not induce TNF-alpha production alone, but act synergistically to stimulate astrocyte TNF-alpha expression. Inbred Lewis and Brown-Norway (BN) rats differ in genetic susceptibility to EAE, which is controlled in part by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. We examined TNF-alpha gene expression by astrocytes derived from BN rats (resistant to EAE) and Lewis rats (highly susceptible). Astrocytes from BN rats express TNF- alpha mRNA and protein in response to LPS alone, yet IFN-gamma does not significantly enhance LPS-induced TNF-alpha expression, nor do they express appreciable TNF-alpha in response to the combined stimuli of IFN-gamma/IL-1 beta. In contrast, astrocytes from Lewis rats express low levels of TNF-alpha mRNA and protein in response to LPS, and are extremely responsive to the priming effect of IFN-gamma for subsequent TNF-alpha gene expression. Also, Lewis astrocytes produce TNF-alpha in response to IFN-gamma/IL-1 beta. The differential TNF-alpha production by astrocytes from BN and Lewis strains is not due to the suppressive effect of prostaglandins, because the addition of indomethacin does not alter the differential pattern of TNF-alpha expression. Furthermore, Lewis and BN astrocytes produce another cytokine, IL-6, in response to LPS, IFN-gamma, and IL-1 beta in a comparable fashion. Peritoneal macrophages and neonatal microglia from Lewis and BN rats are responsive to both LPS and IFN-gamma priming signals for subsequent TNF- alpha production, suggesting that differential TNF-alpha expression by the astrocyte is cell type specific. Taken together, these results suggest that differential TNF-alpha gene expression in response to LPS and IFN-gamma is strain and cell specific, and reflects both transcriptional and post-transcriptional control mechanisms.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC2190814  PMID: 1901078
22.  Asthma and gender impact accumulation of T cell subtypes 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):103.
The "Th2 hypothesis for asthma" asserts that an increased ratio of Th2:Th1 cytokine production plays an important pathogenic role in asthma. Although widely embraced, the hypothesis has been challenged by various empirical observations and has been described as overly simplistic. We sought to establish whether CD3+CD28-mediated and antigen-independent accumulation of type 1 and type 2 T cells differs significantly between nonasthmatic and asthmatic populations.
An ex vivo system was used to characterize the regulation of IFN-γ-producing (type 1) and IL-13-producing (type 2) T cell accumulation in response to CD3+CD28 and IL-2 stimulation by flow cytometry.
IL-13-producing T cells increased in greater numbers in response to antigen-independent stimulation in peripheral blood lymphocytes from female atopic asthmatic subjects compared with male asthmatics and both male and female atopic non-asthmatic subjects. IFN-γ+ T cells increased in greater numbers in response to either antigen-independent or CD3+CD28-mediated stimulation in peripheral blood lymphocytes from atopic asthmatic subjects compared to non-asthmatic subjects, regardless of gender.
We demonstrate that T cells from asthmatics are programmed for increased accumulation of both type 2 and type 1 T cells. Gender had a profound effect on the regulation of type 2 T cells, thus providing a mechanism for the higher frequency of adult asthma in females.
PMCID: PMC2919468  PMID: 20667106
23.  Autoimmunity as a Double Agent in Tumor Killing and Cancer Promotion 
Cancer immunotherapy through manipulation of the immune system holds great potential for the treatment of human cancers. However, recent trials targeting the negative immune regulators cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4, programed death 1 (PD-1), and PD-1 receptor ligand (PD-L1) demonstrated that clinically significant antitumor responses were often associated with the induction of autoimmune toxicity. This finding suggests that the same immune mechanisms that elicit autoimmunity may also contribute to the destruction of tumors. Given the fact that the immunological identity of tumors might be largely an immunoprivileged self, autoimmunity may not represent a wholly undesirable outcome in the context of cancer immunotherapy. Rather, targeted killing of cancer cells and autoimmune damage to healthy tissues may be intricately linked through molecular mechanisms, in particular inflammatory cytokine signaling. On the other hand, since chronic inflammation is a well-recognized condition that promotes tumor development, it appears that autoimmunity can be a “double agent” in mediating either pro-tumor or antitumor effects. This review surveys the tumor-promoting and tumoricidal activities of several prominent cytokines: IFN-γ, TNF-α, TGF-β, IL-17, IL-23, IL-4, and IL-13, produced by three major subsets of T helper cells that interact with innate immune cells. Many of these cytokines exert divergent and seemingly contradictory effects on cancer development in different human and animal models, suggesting a high degree of context dependence in their functions. We hypothesize that these inflammatory cytokines could mediate a feedback loop of autoimmunity, antitumor immunity, and tumorigenesis. Understanding the diverse and paradoxical roles of cytokines from autoimmune responses in the setting of cancer will advance the long-term goal of improving cancer immunotherapy, while minimizing the hazards of immune-mediated tissue damage and the possibility of de novo tumorigenesis, through proper monitoring and preventive measures.
PMCID: PMC3957029  PMID: 24672527
autoimmunity; antitumor; tumorigenesis; inflammation; cytokine
24.  Interferon alpha increases the frequency of interferon gamma-producing human CD4+ T cells 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1993;178(5):1655-1663.
An increased ratio of T helper type 2 (Th2)- vs Th1-like cells contributes to the immune dysregulation in allergic disease situations and in many chronic infections, including AIDS. Th2-type immune responses are characterized by Th cells that produce increased levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and decreased levels of interferon gamma (IFN- gamma). The induction of either a Th1- or a Th2-like phenotype may be critically controlled by the antigen-presenting cells and their cytokines, e.g., IFN-alpha. In this study we have determined the frequencies of potential IL-4- and/or IFN-gamma-producing T cells in the peripheral blood of randomly selected healthy individuals, and analyzed whether IFN-alpha controls IL-4 and/or IFN-gamma production. Purified CD4+ or CD8+ T cells were stimulated for 24 h via the T cell receptor/CD3 complex in the presence or absence of IFN-alpha, and single IL-4- and IFN-gamma-secreting cells were detected in enzyme- linked immunospot assays. In the absence of IFN-alpha, CD4 cells produced IFN-gamma at frequencies of 1:50-300, and produced IL-4 at frequencies of 1:110-<1:100,000. Addition of IFN-alpha during the activation of CD4 cells increased the levels of IFN-gamma mRNA. As a consequence, the numbers of IFN-gamma-producing CD4 cells and the amounts of secreted IFN-gamma increased 10-fold. In contrast, IFN-alpha did not increase the frequency of IL-4-secreting CD4 cells. In the absence of IFN-alpha, addition of exogenous IL-4 to cultures of CD4 cells suppressed IFN-gamma secretion by 70%. However, in the presence of IFN-alpha, IL-4 did not display any suppressive effect. Compared with CD4 cells, CD8 cells produced IFN-gamma more frequently (1:5-10) but IL-4 less frequently (1:5,300 to < 1:100,000). IFN-alpha did not display any effect on the frequency of either IFN-gamma or IL-4 production by CD8 cells. Taken together the results indicate that IFN- alpha increases the frequency of IFN-gamma-secreting CD4 Th cells and antagonizes the suppressive effect of IL-4 on IFN-gamma production. As a consequence, IFN-alpha may favor the induction and maintenance of Th1- like cells and thereby counteract Th2-driven allergic immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2191249  PMID: 8228812
25.  Induction of endogenous Type I interferon within the central nervous system plays a protective role in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
Acta Neuropathologica  2015;130(1):107-118.
The Type I interferons (IFN), beta (IFN-β) and the alpha family (IFN-α), act through a common receptor and have anti-inflammatory effects. IFN-β is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and is effective against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for MS. Mice with EAE show elevated levels of Type I IFNs in the central nervous system (CNS), suggesting a role for endogenous Type I IFN during inflammation. However, the therapeutic benefit of Type I IFN produced in the CNS remains to be established. The aim of this study was to examine whether experimentally induced CNS-endogenous Type I IFN influences EAE. Using IFN-β reporter mice, we showed that direct administration of polyinosinic–polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a potent inducer of IFN-β, into the cerebrospinal fluid induced increased leukocyte numbers and transient upregulation of IFN-β in CD45/CD11b-positive cells located in the meninges and choroid plexus, as well as enhanced IFN-β expression by parenchymal microglial cells. Intrathecal injection of poly I:C to mice showing first symptoms of EAE substantially increased the normal disease-associated expression of IFN-α, IFN-β, interferon regulatory factor-7 and IL-10 in CNS, and disease worsening was prevented for as long as IFN-α/β was expressed. In contrast, there was no therapeutic effect on EAE in poly I:C-treated IFN receptor-deficient mice. IFN-dependent microglial and astrocyte response included production of the chemokine CXCL10. These results show that Type I IFN induced within the CNS can play a protective role in EAE and highlight the role of endogenous type I IFN in mediating neuroprotection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-015-1418-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4469095  PMID: 25869642
Interferon-beta; Interferon-alpha; Microglia; Macrophages; Poly I:C; EAE

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