Colorectal cancer is a common disease which appears to be influenced by anti-tumor immune responses. Here we discuss our recent study1 which tracked anti-tumor CD4+ T cell responses before and after surgical resection, highlighting the importance of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in controlling these responses, and the influence of the tumor on these specific T‑cell populations.
colorectal cancer; regulatory T cell; T cell
Death receptor 3 (DR3, TNFRSF25), the closest family relative to tumor necrosis factor receptor 1, promotes CD4+ T-cell-driven inflammatory disease. We investigated the in vivo role of DR3 and its ligand TL1A in viral infection, by challenging DR3-deficient (DR3KO) mice and their DR3WT littermates with the β-herpesvirus murine cytomegalovirus or the poxvirus vaccinia virus. The phenotype and function of splenic T-cells were analyzed using flow cytometry and molecular biological techniques. We report surface expression of DR3 by naive CD8+ T cells, with TCR activation increasing its levels 4-fold and altering the ratio of DR3 splice variants. T-cell responses were reduced up to 90% in DR3KO mice during acute infection. Adoptive transfer experiments indicated this was dependent on T-cell-restricted expression of DR3. DR3-dependent CD8+ T-cell expansion was NK and CD4 independent and due to proliferation, not decreased cell death. Notably, impaired immunity in DR3KO hosts on a C57BL/6 background was associated with 4- to 7-fold increases in viral loads during the acute phase of infection, and in mice with suboptimal NK responses was essential for survival (37.5%). This is the first description of DR3 regulating virus-specific T-cell function in vivo and uncovers a critical role for DR3 in mediating antiviral immunity.
murine cytomegalovirus; vaccinia virus
CD8+ T-cells recognize immunogenic peptides presented at the cell surface bound to major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) molecules. Antigen recognition involves the binding of both T-cell receptor (TCR) and CD8 co-receptor to the same peptide-MHCI (pMHCI) ligand. Specificity is determined by the TCR, whereas CD8 mediates effects on antigen sensitivity. Anti-CD8 antibodies have been used extensively to examine the role of CD8 in CD8+ T-cell activation. However, as previous studies have yielded conflicting results, it is unclear from the literature whether anti-CD8 antibodies per se are capable of inducing effector function. Here, we report on the ability of seven monoclonal anti-human CD8 antibodies to activate six human CD8+ T-cell clones with a total of five different specificities. Six out of seven anti-human CD8 antibodies tested did not activate CD8+ T-cells. In contrast, one anti-human CD8 antibody, OKT8, induced effector function in all CD8+ T-cells examined. Moreover, OKT8 was found to enhance TCR/pMHCI on-rates and, as a consequence, could be used to improve pMHCI tetramer staining and the visualization of antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells. The anti-mouse CD8 antibodies, CT-CD8a and CT-CD8b, also activated CD8+ T-cells despite opposing effects on pMHCI tetramer staining. The observed heterogeneity in the ability of anti-CD8 antibodies to trigger T-cell effector function provides an explanation for the apparent incongruity observed in previous studies and should be taken into consideration when interpreting results generated with these reagents. Furthermore, the ability of antibody-mediated CD8-engagement to deliver an activation signal underscores the importance of CD8 in CD8+ T-cell signalling.
anti-CD8 antibody; CD8+ T-cell activation; pMHCI tetramer; T-cells; surface plasmon resonance
There is indirect evidence that T cell responses can control the metastatic spread of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, an enrichment of CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) has also been documented.
To evaluate whether CRC promotes Treg activity and how this influences anti-tumour immune responses and disease progression.
A longitudinal study of Treg activity on a cohort of patients was performed before and after tumour resection. Specific CD4+ T cell responses were also measured to the tumour associated antigens carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and 5T4.
Tregs from 62 preoperative CRC patients expressed a highly significant increase in levels of Foxp3 compared to healthy age-matched controls (p=0.007), which returned to normal after surgery (p=0.0075). CD4+ T cell responses to one or both of the tumour associated antigens, CEA and 5T4, were observed in approximately two-thirds of patients and one third of these responses were suppressed by Tregs. Strikingly, in all patients with tumour recurrence at 12 months, significant preoperative suppression was observed of tumour-specific (p=0.003) but not control CD4+ T cell responses.
These findings demonstrate that the presence of CRC drives the activity of Tregs and accompanying suppression of CD4+ T cell responses to tumour-associated antigens. Suppression is associated with recurrence of tumour at 12 months, implying that Tregs contribute to disease progression. These findings offer a rationale for the manipulation of Tregs for therapeutic intervention.
Regulatory T cells; colorectal cancer; imaging; T lymphocytes; colorectal cancer; colorectal diseases; histopathology; cancer immunobiology; hepatitis; immunoregulation; hepatitis C; α β T cells; hepatitis B
A significant enrichment of CD4+Foxp3+ T cells (Tregs) is frequently observed in murine and human carcinomas. As Tregs can limit effective anti-tumor immune responses, thereby promoting tumor progression, it is important that the mechanisms underpinning intra-tumoral accumulation of Tregs are identified. Due to evidence gathered mostly in vitro, the conversion of conventional T cells (Tconv) into Tregs has been proposed as one such mechanism. We assessed the contribution of conversion in vivo by analyzing the TCR repertoires of Tconv and Treg cells in carcinogen-induced tumors in mice. Our results indicate that the TCR repertoires of Treg and Tconv cells within tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are largely distinct. Indeed, the cell population with the greatest degree of repertoire similarity with tumor-infiltrating Tregs was the Treg population from the tumor draining lymph node. These findings demonstrate that conversion of Tconv cells does not contribute significantly to the accumulation of tumor-infiltrating Tregs; rather, Tconv and Treg cells arise from different populations with unique TCR repertoires. Enrichment of Tregs within TILs most likely, therefore, reflects differences in the way that Treg and Tconv cells are influenced by the tumor microenvironment. Elucidating the nature of these influences may indicate how the balance between tumor-infiltrating Treg and Tconv cells can be manipulated for therapeutic purposes.
Conversion; methylcholanthrene; regulatory T cell; TCR repertoire; tumor immunology
Seasonal influenza A infection affects a significant cohort of the global population annually, resulting in considerable morbidity and mortality. Therapeutic strategies are of limited efficacy, and during a pandemic outbreak would only be available to a minority of the global population. Over-the-counter medicines are routinely taken by individuals suffering from influenza, but few studies have been conducted to determine their effectiveness in reducing pulmonary immunopathology or the influence they exert upon the generation of protective immunity.
A mouse model of influenza infection was utilised to assess the efficacy of paracetamol (acetaminophen) in reducing influenza-induced pathology and to examine whether paracetamol affects generation of protective immunity.
Administration (intraperitoneal) of paracetamol significantly decreased the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the airway spaces, reduced pulmonary immunopathology associated with acute infection and improved the overall lung function of mice, without adversely affecting the induction of virus-specific adaptive responses. Mice treated with paracetamol exhibited an ability to resist a second infection with heterologous virus comparable with that of untreated mice.
Our results demonstrate that paracetamol dramatically reduces the morbidity associated with influenza but does not compromise the development of adaptive immune responses. Overall, these data support the utility of paracetamol for reducing the clinical symptoms associated with influenza virus infection.
Influenza; pulmonary; inflammation; paracetamol; virus; not applicable; infection control; innate immunity; respiratory infection; viral infection
CD59, a broadly expressed GPI anchored molecule, regulates formation of the membrane attack complex of the complement cascade. We previously demonstrated that mouse CD59 also down-modulates CD4+ T cell activity in vivo. In this study, we explored the role of CD59 on human CD4+ T cells. Our data demonstrate that CD59 is up regulated on activated CD4+ T cells and serves to down-modulate their activity in response to polyclonal and antigen- specific stimulation. The therapeutic potential of this finding was explored using T cells isolated from colorectal cancer patients. The findings were striking and indicated that blockade of CD59 significantly enhanced the CD4+ T cell response to two different tumor antigens. These data highlight the potential for manipulating CD59 expression on T cells for boosting weak immune responses, such as those found in individuals with cancer.
Human; T cells; Tumour immunity
CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg) are known to influence T cell responses to tumours. Here we have explored the role of Treg in inhibiting not only adaptive, but also innate immune responses to tumours. To this end we used a Fas ligand (FasL)-expressing melanoma cell line in a mouse model. In this system, innate immunity is sufficient to reject the tumour. All mice depleted of Treg and challenged with FasL-expressing melanoma remained tumour-free. Investigation of the underlying cellular effector mechanisms revealed that depletion of Treg enhanced an NK cell response capable of tumour lysis. Furthermore, this initial innate immune response primed mice to make an effective adaptive immune response leading to complete rejection of challenge with the parental melanoma. Both antigen-specific antibody and CD4+ T cells were implicated in protection via adaptive immunity. We conclude that removal of Treg and vaccination with whole tumour cells expressing FasL activates multiple arms of the immune system, leading to efficient tumour rejection. These findings highlight a novel role for FasL in inducing innate immune responses that are normally inhibited by Treg and uncover an adjuvant effect of FasL that can be used to stimulate tumour immunity after depletion of Treg.
Fas ligand; Innate tumour immunity; Regulatory T cells
Influenza-specific immune activity not only promotes virus clearance but also causes immunopathology, thereby underlining the importance of mounting a measured anti-viral immune response. Since complement bridges both the innate and adaptive immune systems and has been implicated in defence against influenza, the role of the complement regulator CD59a in modulating the response to influenza was explored. For this purpose, immune responses to influenza virus, strain E61-13-H17, in mice deficient in the complement regulator protein CD59a (Cd59a–/– mice) were compared to those in wild-type mice. The severity of lung inflammation was significantly enhanced in the lungs of Cd59a–/– mice with increased numbers of infiltrating neutrophils and CD4+ T cells. When complement was inhibited using soluble complement receptor1, the frequency of lung-infiltrating neutrophils in influenza-infected Cd59a–/– mice was much reduced whilst numbers of CD4+ T cells remained unchanged. These results demonstrate that CD59a, previously defined as a complement regulator, modulates both the innate and adaptive immune response to influenza virus by both complement-dependent and-independent mechanisms.
Inflammation; Lung; T cells; Virus
The interaction between T cell receptors (TCR) and peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) antigens can lead to varying degrees of agonism (T cell activation), or antagonism. The P14 TCR recognises the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-derived peptide, gp33 residues 33–41 (KAVYNFATC), presented in the context of H-2Db. The cellular responses to various related H-2Db peptide ligands are very well characterised, and P14 TCR-transgenic mice have been used extensively in models of virus infection, autoimmunity and tumour rejection. Here, we analyse the binding of the P14 soluble TCR to a broad panel of related H-2Db-peptide complexes by surface plasmon resonance, and compare this with their diverse cellular responses. P14 TCR binds H-2Db-gp33 with a KD of 3 µM (±0.5 µM), typical of an immunodominant antiviral TCR, but with unusually fast kinetics (koff=1 s−1), corresponding to a half-life of 0.7 s at 25°C, outside the range previously observed for murine agonist TCR/pMHC interactions. The most striking feature of these data is that a very short half-life does not preclude the ability of a TCR/pMHC interaction to induce antiviral immunity, autoimmune disease and tumour rejection.
Biophysics; Protein-protein interactions; TCR
Whether leukocytes exert an influence on vascular function in vivo is not known. Here, genetic and pharmacologic approaches show that the absence of neutrophils leads to acute blood pressure dysregulation. Following neutrophil depletion, systolic blood pressure falls significantly over 3 days (88.0 ± 3.5 vs 104.0 ± 2.8 mm Hg, day 3 vs day 0, mean ± SEM, P < .001), and aortic rings from neutropenic mice do not constrict properly. The constriction defect is corrected using l-nitroarginine-methyl ester (L-NAME) or the specific inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor 1400W, while acetylcholine relaxation is normal. iNOS- or IFNγ-deficient mice are protected from neutropenia-induced hypotension, indicating that iNOS-derived nitric oxide (NO) is responsible and that its induction involves IFNγ. Oral enrofloxacin partially inhibited hypotension, implicating bacterial products. Roles for cyclooxygenase, complement C5, or endotoxin were excluded, although urinary prostacyclin metabolites were elevated. Neutrophil depletion required complement opsinization, with no evidence for intravascular degranulation. In summary, circulating neutrophils contribute to maintaining physiological tone in the vasculature, at least in part through suppressing early proinflammatory effects of infection. The speed with which hypotension developed provides insight into early changes that occur in the absence of neutrophils and illustrates the importance of constant surveillance of mucosal sites by granulocytes in healthy mice.
Currently, our understanding of mechanisms underlying cell-mediated immunity and particularly of mechanisms that promote robust T cell memory to respiratory viruses is incomplete. Interleukin (IL)-6 has recently re-emerged as an important regulator of T cell proliferation and survival. Since IL-6 is abundant following infection with influenza virus, we analyzed virus-specific T cell activity in both wild type and IL-6 deficient mice. Studies outlined herein highlight a novel role for IL-6 in the development of T cell memory to influenza virus. Specifically, we find that CD4+ but not CD8+ T cell memory is critically dependent upon IL-6. This effect of IL-6 includes its ability to suppress CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg). We demonstrate that influenza-induced IL-6 limits the activity of virus-specific Tregs, thereby facilitating the activity of virus-specific memory CD4+ T cells. These experiments reveal a critical role for IL-6 in ensuring, within the timeframe of an acute infection with a cytopathic virus, that antigen-specific Tregs have no opportunity to down-modulate the immune response, thereby favoring pathogen clearance and survival of the host.
Influenza virus poses a serious global health threat, particularly in light of newly emerging strains such as the avian virus H5N1. The generation of cell-mediated vaccines against influenza virus requires an understanding of mechanisms underlying effective virus-specific T cell memory. This study explored the impact of a cytokine, interleukin-6 (IL-6), on generation of effective influenza-specific T cell memory. This cytokine was considered important based on previous studies revealing its role in promoting survival and activity of conventional T cells whilst inhibiting the activity of T cells involved in dampening down immunity (regulatory T cells). We found that the activity of a subset of influenza-specific memory T cells (CD4+ T cells) was diminished in the absence of IL-6 due to the inhibitory effects of regulatory T cells—an effect that compromised protective anti-viral immunity. Since a robust CD4+ T cell response is likely to be central to the success of a vaccine against influenza virus, these findings highlight the importance of IL-6 in promoting effective cell-mediated immune responses, thereby facilitating successful virus clearance.
A wealth of evidence obtained using mouse models indicates that CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) maintain peripheral tolerance to self-antigens and also inhibit anti-tumor immune responses. To date there is limited information about CD4+ T cell responses in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). We set out to measure T cell responses to a tumor-associated antigen and examine whether Treg impinge on those anti-tumor immune responses in CRC patients.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Treg were identified and characterized as CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ using flow cytometry. An increased frequency of Treg was demonstrated in both peripheral blood and mesenteric lymph nodes of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) compared with either healthy controls or patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Depletion of Treg from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of CRC patients unmasked CD4+ T cell responses, as observed by IFNγ release, to the tumor associated antigen 5T4, whereas no effect was observed in a healthy age-matched control group.
Collectively, these data demonstrate that Treg capable of inhibiting tumor associated antigen-specific immune responses are enriched in patients with CRC. These results support a rationale for manipulating Treg to enhance cancer immunotherapy.
CD59 blocks formation of the membrane attack complex of complement by inhibiting binding of C9 to the C5b-8 complex. To investigate a role for CD59 in promoting T cell responses, we compared T cell activation in CD59a-deficient (Cd59a−/−) and wild-type (WT) mice after in vitro stimulation and after infection with recombinant vaccinia virus. Virus-specific CD4+ T cell responses were significantly enhanced in Cd59a−/− mice compared to WT mice. Similarly, Cd59a−/− T cells responded more vigorously to in vitro stimulation with CD3-specific antibodies compared to WT mice. This effect of CD59a on T cell proliferation was found to be complement-independent. Collectively, these results demonstrate that CD59a down-modulates CD4+ T cell activity in vitro and in vivo, thereby revealing another link between complement regulators and T cell activation.
viral; Cell proliferation; T Cells
It has been shown that certain pathogens can trigger efficient T cell responses in the absence of CD28, a key costimulatory receptor expressed on resting T cells. Inducible costimulator protein (ICOS) is an inducible costimulator structurally and functionally related to CD28. Here, we show that in the absence of CD28 both T helper cell type 1 (Th1) and Th2 responses were impaired but not abrogated after infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), and the nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. Inhibition of ICOS in CD28-deficient mice further reduced Th1/Th2 polarization. Blocking of ICOS alone had a limited but significant capacity to downregulate Th subset development. In contrast, cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses, which are regulated to a minor and major extent by CD28 after LCMV and VSV infection, respectively, remained unaffected by blocking ICOS. Together, our results demonstrate that ICOS regulates both CD28-dependent and CD28-independent CD4+ subset (Th1 and Th2) responses but not CTL responses in vivo.
ICOS; CD28; Th1/Th2; Nippostrongylus brasiliensis; LCMV
The question of whether enhanced memory T cell responses are simply due to an increased frequency of specific cells or also to an improved response at the single cell level is widely debated. In this study, we analyzed T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic memory T cells and bona fide memory T cells isolated from virally infected normal mice using the tetramer technology. We found that memory T cells are qualitatively different from naive T cells due to a developmentally regulated rearrangement of the topology of the signaling machinery. In naive cytotoxic T cells, only a few CD8 molecules are associated with Lck and the kinase is homogeneously distributed inside the cell. However, in vivo priming of naive T cells induces the targeting of Lck to the CD8 coreceptor in the cell membrane and the consequent organization of a more efficient TCR signaling machinery in effector and memory cells.
memory; virus; costimulation
Infection of C57BL/6 mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) stimulates major histocompatibility complex class I–restricted cytotoxic T cells (CTLs), which normally resolve the infection. Three peptide epitopes derived from LCMV have been shown to bind the mouse class I molecule H-2 Db and to stimulate CTL responses in LCMV-infected mice. This report describes the identity and abundance of each CTL epitope after their elution from LCMV-infected cells. Based on this information, peptide abundance was found to correlate with the magnitude of each CTL response generated after infection with LCMV. Subsequent experiments, performed to determine the antiviral capacity of each CTL specificity, indicate that the quantitative hierarchy of CTL activity does not correlate with the ability to protect against LCMV infection. This report, therefore, indicates that immunodominant epitopes should be defined, not only by the strength of the CTL response that they stimulate, but also by the ability of the CTLs to protect against infection.
This study describes the construction of soluble major histocompatibility complexes consisting of the mouse class I molecule, H-2Db, chemically biotinylated β2 microglobulin and a peptide epitope derived from the glycoprotein (GP; amino acids 33–41) of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Tetrameric class I complexes, which were produced by mixing the class I complexes with phycoerythrin-labeled neutravidin, permitted direct analysis of virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) by flow cytometry. This technique was validated by (a) staining CD8+ cells in the spleens of transgenic mice that express a T cell receptor (TCR) specific for H-2Db in association with peptide GP33–41, and (b) by staining virus-specific CTLs in the cerebrospinal fluid of C57BL/6 (B6) mice that had been infected intracranially with LCMV-DOCILE. Staining of spleen cells isolated from B6 mice revealed that up to 40% of CD8+ T cells were GP33 tetramer+ during the initial phase of LCMV infection. In contrast, GP33 tetramers did not stain CD8+ T cells isolated from the spleens of B6 mice that had been infected 2 mo previously with LCMV above the background levels found in naive mice. The fate of virus-specific CTLs was analyzed during the acute phase of infection in mice challenged both intracranially and intravenously with a high or low dose of LCMV-DOCILE. The results of the study show that the outcome of infection by LCMV is determined by antigen load alone. Furthermore, the data indicate that deletion of virus-specific CTLs in the presence of excessive antigen is preceded by TCR downregulation and is dependent upon perforin.
Human CD4+ αβ T cells are activated via T-cell receptor recognition of peptide epitopes presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II (MHC-II). The open ends of the MHC-II binding groove allow peptide epitopes to extend beyond a central nonamer core region at both the amino- and carboxy-terminus. We have previously found that these non-bound C-terminal residues can alter T cell activation in an MHC allele-transcending fashion, although the mechanism for this effect remained unclear. Here we show that modification of the C-terminal peptide-flanking region of an influenza hemagglutinin (HA305−320) epitope can alter T-cell receptor binding affinity, T-cell activation and repertoire selection of influenza-specific CD4+ T cells expanded from peripheral blood. These data provide the first demonstration that changes in the C-terminus of the peptide-flanking region can substantially alter T-cell receptor binding affinity, and indicate a mechanism through which peptide flanking residues could influence repertoire selection.
Epitopes presented by MHC-II molecules bind to T-cell receptors to activate CD4+ T cells. In this study, changes in the carboxy-terminal region of the influenza hemagglutinin epitope HA305-320 alters the strength of binding to the T-cell receptor, thus modulating T-cell receptor usage and activation.