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1.  Environmental Enrichment Alters Splenic Immune Cell Composition and Enhances Secondary Influenza Vaccine Responses in Mice 
Molecular Medicine  2014;20(1):179-190.
Chronic stress has deleterious effects on immune function, which can lead to adverse health outcomes. However, studies investigating the impact of stress reduction interventions on immunity in clinical research have yielded divergent results, potentially stemming from differences in study design and genetic heterogeneity, among other clinical research challenges. To test the hypothesis that reducing glucocorticoid levels enhances certain immune functions, we administered influenza vaccine once (prime) or twice (boost) to mice housed in either standard control caging or environmental enrichment (EE) caging. We have shown that this approach reduces mouse corticosterone production. Compared with controls, EE mice had significantly lower levels of fecal corticosterone metabolites (FCMs) and increased splenic B and T lymphocyte numbers. Corticosterone levels were negatively associated with the numbers of CD19+ (r2 = 0.43, p = 0.0017), CD4+ (r2 = 0.28, p = 0.0154) and CD8+ cells (r2 = 0.20, p = 0.0503). Vaccinated mice showed nonsignificant differences in immunoglobulin G (IgG) titer between caging groups, although EE mice tended to exhibit larger increases in titer from prime to boost than controls; the interaction between the caging group (control versus EE) and vaccine group (prime versus boost) showed a strong statistical trend (cage-group*vaccine-group, F = 4.27, p = 0.0555), suggesting that there may be distinct effects of EE caging on primary versus secondary IgG vaccine responses. Vaccine-stimulated splenocytes from boosted EE mice had a significantly greater frequency of interleukin 5 (IL-5)-secreting cells than boosted controls (mean difference 7.7, IL-5 spot-forming units/106 splenocytes, 95% confidence interval 0.24–135.1, p = 0.0493) and showed a greater increase in the frequency of IL-5–secreting cells from prime to boost. Our results suggest that corticosterone reduction via EE caging was associated with enhanced secondary vaccine responses, but had little effect on primary responses in mice. These findings help identify differences in primary and secondary vaccine responses in relationship to stress mediators that may be relevant in clinical studies.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2013.00158
PMCID: PMC4002849  PMID: 24687160
2.  CD8+ T cell derived IFNγ prevents infection by a second heterologous virus 
Persistent viral infection is often associated with dysfunctional immune responses against unrelated pathogens. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) can establish acute or chronic infections in mice and is widely used as a model for persistent virus infections in humans. Mice infected with LCMV develop a transient defect in antigen specific immunity against heterologous viral infection. Although it has been proposed that LCMV infection induces an immunosuppressed state within the host, our data show that infected mice successfully clear vaccinia virus through a mechanism that involves CD8+ T cell-derived IFNγ. This observation demonstrates that chronic LCMV infection does not impair protective immunity against heterologous viral challenge. Rather, a natural sterilizing immunity is induced following a primary infection that prevents a secondary infection. Our findings suggest a need to re-evaluate current thoughts about the immune suppression that might occur during a persistent infection.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1201679
PMCID: PMC3518669  PMID: 23136204
3.  An intermediate dose of LCMV clone 13 causes prolonged morbidity that is maintained by CD4+ T cells 
Virology  2012;425(2):122-132.
Wasting is a sign of various underlying disorders and is a common feature of cancer, sepsis, and AIDS. We have developed an in vivo model to study the various stages of wasting following infection of mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus cl-13. Using this model we have identified four distinct stages of wasting and have discovered that all stages occur in the different groups of mice regardless of whether the virus is cleared or persists. However, the degree and extent of wasting varies between groups of mice, depending upon the dose of virus administered. Blocking IFNγ or TNFα, which are believed to take part in the wasting process, did not affect the wasting state. Finally, we found that CD4+ T cells control the maintenance stage of wasting. We believe this model will be useful in studying the regulation of wasting during a persistent viral infection, hopefully leading to improved therapies to ameliorate the disorder.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2012.01.005
PMCID: PMC3288322  PMID: 22305620
Virus dose; LCMV; cl-13; persistent infection; CD4+ T cells; wasting; cachexia; TNFα; IFNγ
4.  CD8 T Cell Memory Recall Is Enhanced by Novel Direct Interactions with CD4 T Cells Enabled by MHC Class II Transferred from APCs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56999.
Protection against many intracellular pathogens is provided by CD8 T cells, which are thought to need CD4 T cell help to develop into effective memory CD8 T cells. Because murine CD8 T cells do not transcribe MHC class II (MHC-II) genes, several models have proposed antigen presenting cells (APCs) as intermediaries required for CD4 T cells to deliver their help to CD8 T cells. Here, we demonstrate the presence of MHC-II molecules on activated murine CD8 T cells in vitro as well as in vivo. These MHC-II molecules are acquired via trogocytosis by CD8 T cells from their activating APCs, particularly CD11c positive dendritic cells (DCs). Transferred MHC-II molecules on activated murine CD8 T cells were functionally competent in stimulating specific indicator CD4 T cells. CD8 T cells that were “helped” in vitro and subsequently allowed to rest in vivo showed enhanced recall responses upon challenge compared to “helpless” CD8 T cells; in contrast, no differences were seen upon immediate challenge. These data indicate that direct CD8∶CD4 T cell interactions may significantly contribute to help for CD8 T cells. Furthermore, this mechanism may enable CD8 T cells to communicate with different subsets of interacting CD4 T cells that could modulate immune responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056999
PMCID: PMC3575485  PMID: 23441229
5.  Upregulation of Retinal Dehydrogenase 2 in Alternatively Activated Macrophages during Retinoid-dependent Type-2 Immunity to Helminth Infection in Mice 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(8):e1002883.
Although the vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid (RA) plays a critical role in immune function, RA synthesis during infection is poorly understood. Here, we show that retinal dehydrogenases (Raldh), required for the synthesis of RA, are induced during a retinoid-dependent type-2 immune response elicited by Schistosoma mansoni infection, but not during a retinoid-independent anti-viral immune response. Vitamin A deficient mice have a selective defect in TH2 responses to S. mansoni, but retained normal LCMV specific TH1 responses. A combination of in situ imaging, intra-vital imaging, and sort purification revealed that alternatively activated macrophages (AAMφ) express high levels of Raldh2 during S. mansoni infection. IL-4 induces Raldh2 expression in bone marrow-derived macrophages in vitro and peritoneal macrophages in vivo. Finally, in vivo derived AAMφ have an enhanced capacity to induce Foxp3 expression in CD4+ cells through an RA dependent mechanism, especially in combination with TGF-β. The regulation of Raldh enzymes during infection is pathogen specific and reflects differential requirements for RA during effector responses. Specifically, AAMφ are an inducible source of RA synthesis during helminth infections and TH2 responses that may be important in regulating immune responses.
Author Summary
Vitamin A deficiency, a major global health concern, increases morbidity and death due to infectious diseases. For vitamin A to be utilized by the immune system, it must be metabolized into retinoic acid (RA), its active form. RA is a key determinant of T cell activity. However, its contribution to protective immunity during infection is poorly understood, as is the regulation of its synthesis in this context. We examined RA synthesis by immune cells responding to helminth infection and virus infection. While intestinal T cell responses were vitamin A-dependent during both infections, only T cell responses elicited by helminth infection were vitamin A-dependent in the liver. Consistent with this finding, the enzymes necessary for RA synthesis were expressed by inflammatory cells recruited to the liver during helminth, but not virus, infection. We identified alternatively-activated macrophages as a source of RA synthesis within immune cells responding to helminth infection and find that they can induce regulatory T cells. Our findings provide a better understanding of vitamin A utilization during infection and demonstrate that RA synthesis is an inducible component of protective immunity.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002883
PMCID: PMC3426520  PMID: 22927819
6.  The Calm Mouse: An Animal Model of Stress Reduction 
Molecular Medicine  2012;18(1):606-617.
Chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes and is linked with neuroendocrine changes, deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity, and central nervous system neuropathology. Although stress management is commonly advocated clinically, there is insufficient mechanistic understanding of how decreasing stress affects disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we have developed a “calm mouse model” with caging enhancements designed to reduce murine stress. Male BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: control (Cntl), standard caging; calm (Calm), large caging to reduce animal density, a cardboard nest box for shelter, paper nesting material to promote innate nesting behavior, and a polycarbonate tube to mimic tunneling; control exercise (Cntl Ex), standard caging with a running wheel, known to reduce stress; and calm exercise (Calm Ex), calm caging with a running wheel. Calm, Cntl Ex and Calm Ex animals exhibited significantly less corticosterone production than Cntl animals. We also observed changes in spleen mass, and in vitro splenocyte studies demonstrated that Calm Ex animals had innate and adaptive immune responses that were more sensitive to acute handling stress than those in Cntl. Calm animals gained greater body mass than Cntl, although they had similar food intake, and we also observed changes in body composition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Together, our results suggest that the Calm mouse model represents a promising approach to studying the biological effects of stress reduction in the context of health and in conjunction with existing disease models.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2012.00053
PMCID: PMC3388136  PMID: 22398685

Results 1-6 (6)