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1.  Food Components and the Immune System: From Tonic Agents to Allergens 
The intestinal mucosa is the major site of contact with antigens, and it houses the largest lymphoid tissue in the body. In physiological conditions, microbiota and dietary antigens are the natural sources of stimulation for the gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) and for the immune system as a whole. Germ-free models have provided some insights on the immunological role of gut antigens. However, most of the GALT is not located in the large intestine, where gut microbiota is prominent. It is concentrated in the small intestine where protein absorption takes place. In this review, we will address the involvement of food components in the development and the function of the immune system. Studies in mice have already shown that dietary proteins are critical elements for the developmental shift of the immature neonatal immune profile into a fully developed immune system. The immunological effects of other food components (such as vitamins and lipids) will also be addressed. Most of the cells in the GALT are activated and local pro-inflammatory mediators are abundant. Regulatory elements are known to provide a delicate yet robust balance that maintains gut homeostasis. Usually antigenic contact in the gut induces two major immune responses, oral tolerance and production of secretory IgA. However, under pathological conditions mucosal homeostasis is disturbed resulting in inflammatory reactions such as food hypersensitivity. Food allergy development depends on many factors such as genetic predisposition, biochemical features of allergens, and a growing array of environmental elements. Neuroimmune interactions are also implicated in food allergy and they are examples of the high complexity of the phenomenon. Recent findings on the gut circuits triggered by food components will be reviewed to show that, far beyond their role as nutrients, they are critical players in the operation of the immune system in health and disease.
PMCID: PMC3656403  PMID: 23730302
nutrition; oral tolerance; food allergy; diet; CLA; vitamin A; food aversion
2.  New Insights into the Immunological Changes in IL-10-Deficient Mice during the Course of Spontaneous Inflammation in the Gut Mucosa 
IL-10 is a regulatory cytokine that plays a major role in the homeostasis of the gut and this is illustrated by the fact that IL-10−/− mice develop spontaneous colitis. In this study, IL-10−/− mice were analyzed for immunological changes during colitis development. We found a reduced frequency of regulatory T cells CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ and higher frequency of activated T cells in the colon that precedes the macroscopic signs of the disease. Production of IL-17 and IFN-γ was higher in the colon. Colitis progression culminates with the reduction of CD4+LAP+ regulatory T cells in the intestine. Frequency of B1 cells and the secretory IgA production were both elevated. Despite these alterations, 16-week-old IL-10−/− mice could be rendered tolerant by a continuous feeding protocol. Our study provides detailed analysis of changes that precede colitis and it also suggests that oral tolerance could be used to design novel alternative therapies for the disease.
PMCID: PMC3287045  PMID: 22400037
3.  Regulatory T Cells Accumulate in the Lung Allergic Inflammation and Efficiently Suppress T-Cell Proliferation but Not Th2 Cytokine Production 
Foxp3+CD25+CD4+ regulatory T cells are vital for peripheral tolerance and control of tissue inflammation. In this study, we characterized the phenotype and monitored the migration and activity of regulatory T cells present in the airways of allergic or tolerant mice after allergen challenge. To induce lung allergic inflammation, mice were sensitized twice with ovalbumin/aluminum hydroxide gel and challenged twice with intranasal ovalbumin. Tolerance was induced by oral administration of ovalbumin for 5 consecutive days prior to OVA sensitization and challenge. We detected regulatory T cells (Foxp3+CD25+CD4+ T cells) in the airways of allergic and tolerant mice; however, the number of regulatory T cells was more than 40-fold higher in allergic mice than in tolerant mice. Lung regulatory T cells expressed an effector/memory phenotype (CCR4highCD62LlowCD44highCD54highCD69+) that distinguished them from naive regulatory T cells (CCR4intCD62LhighCD44intCD54intCD69−). These regulatory T cells efficiently suppressed pulmonary T-cell proliferation but not Th2 cytokine production.
PMCID: PMC3227414  PMID: 22162718
4.  Evaluation of the Allergenicity Potential of TcPR-10 Protein from Theobroma cacao 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e37969.
The pathogenesis related protein PR10 (TcPR-10), obtained from the Theobroma cacao-Moniliophthora perniciosa interaction library, presents antifungal activity against M. perniciosa and acts in vitro as a ribonuclease. However, despite its biotechnological potential, the TcPR-10 has the P-loop motif similar to those of some allergenic proteins such as Bet v 1 (Betula verrucosa) and Pru av 1 (Prunus avium). The insertion of mutations in this motif can produce proteins with reduced allergenic power. The objective of the present work was to evaluate the allergenic potential of the wild type and mutant recombinant TcPR-10 using bioinformatics tools and immunological assays.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mutant substitutions (T10P, I30V, H45S) were inserted in the TcPR-10 gene by site-directed mutagenesis, cloned into pET28a and expressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) cells. Changes in molecular surface caused by the mutant substitutions was evaluated by comparative protein modeling using the three-dimensional structure of the major cherry allergen, Pru av 1 as a template. The immunological assays were carried out in 8–12 week old female BALB/c mice. The mice were sensitized with the proteins (wild type and mutants) via subcutaneous and challenged intranasal for induction of allergic airway inflammation.
We showed that the wild TcPR-10 protein has allergenic potential, whereas the insertion of mutations produced proteins with reduced capacity of IgE production and cellular infiltration in the lungs. On the other hand, in vitro assays show that the TcPR-10 mutants still present antifungal and ribonuclease activity against M. perniciosa RNA. In conclusion, the mutant proteins present less allergenic potential than the wild TcPR-10, without the loss of interesting biotechnological properties.
PMCID: PMC3387164  PMID: 22768037
5.  Coinfection with Different Trypanosoma cruzi Strains Interferes with the Host Immune Response to Infection 
A century after the discovery of Trypanosoma cruzi in a child living in Lassance, Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1909, many uncertainties remain with respect to factors determining the pathogenesis of Chagas disease (CD). Herein, we simultaneously investigate the contribution of both host and parasite factors during acute phase of infection in BALB/c mice infected with the JG and/or CL Brener T. cruzi strains. JG single infected mice presented reduced parasitemia and heart parasitism, no mortality, levels of pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, CCL2, IL-6 and IFN-γ) similar to those found among naïve animals and no clinical manifestations of disease. On the other hand, CL Brener single infected mice presented higher parasitemia and heart parasitism, as well as an increased systemic release of pro-inflammatory mediators and higher mortality probably due to a toxic shock-like systemic inflammatory response. Interestingly, coinfection with JG and CL Brener strains resulted in intermediate parasitemia, heart parasitism and mortality. This was accompanied by an increase in the systemic release of IL-10 with a parallel increase in the number of MAC-3+ and CD4+ T spleen cells expressing IL-10. Therefore, the endogenous production of IL-10 elicited by coinfection seems to be crucial to counterregulate the potentially lethal effects triggered by systemic release of pro-inflammatory mediators induced by CL Brener single infection. In conclusion, our results suggest that the composition of the infecting parasite population plays a role in the host response to T. cruzi in determining the severity of the disease in experimentally infected BALB/c mice. The combination of JG and CL Brener was able to trigger both protective inflammatory immunity and regulatory immune mechanisms that attenuate damage caused by inflammation and disease severity in BALB/c mice.
Author Summary
Chagas disease, a life-long parasitic disease caused by the flagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, was discovered a century ago by the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, and remains one of the most neglected tropical diseases, affecting 13 million people in Latin America. Disease is characterized by distinct clinical courses, varying from asymptomatic to severe forms with damage to heart and/or gastrointestinal tract. The causes of the different clinical manifestations are not completely understood, but they certainly involve both parasite and host features. In this study, the authors analyzed immune response of BALB/c mice to infection with two different T. cruzi populations. One of them (JG) caused low parasitism and low levels of pro-inflammatory mediators associated with no clinical manifestation of the disease. The other (CL Brener) caused severe disease, high mortality and high levels of pro-inflammatory mediators. The coinfection, however, triggered singular regulatory immune mechanism(s) that attenuated damage caused by inflammation and disease severity that are typical of the single infection with CL Brener. As mixed infection is naturally found in patients in endemic areas, these results can explain, at least in part, the complexity of the immune responses and consequently the various clinical manifestations of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2953483  PMID: 20967289

Results 1-5 (5)