Antigen presentation by MHC class I molecules requires degradation of epitope source proteins in the cytosol. Although the preeminent role of the proteasome is clearly established, evidence suggesting a significant role for proteasome-independent generation of class I ligands has been reported repeatedly. However, an enzyme responsible for such a role has not been identified. Recently insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) was shown to produce an antigenic peptide derived from the tumor antigen MAGE-A3 in an entirely proteasome-independent manner, raising the question of the global impact of IDE in MHC class I antigen processing. Here we report that IDE knockdown in human cell lines, or knockout in two different mouse strains, has no effect on cell surface expression of various MHC class I molecules, including allomorphs such as HLA-A3 and HLA-B27 suggested to be loaded in an at least a partly proteasome-independent manner. Moreover, reduced or absent IDE expression does not affect presentation of five epitopes including epitopes derived from beta amyloid and proinsulin, two preferred IDE substrates. Thus, IDE does not play a major role in MHC class I antigen processing, confirming the dominant and almost exclusive role of the proteasome in cytosolic production of MHC class I ligands.
Natural rubber latex (NRL; Hevea brasiliensis) allergy is an IgE-mediated reaction to latex proteins. When latex glove exposure is the main sensitizing agent, Hev b 5 is one of the major allergens. Dendritic cells (DC), the main antigen presenting cells, modulated with pharmacological agents can restore tolerance in several experimental models, including allergy. In the current study, we aimed to generate DC with tolerogenic properties from NRL-allergic patients and evaluate their ability to modulate allergen-specific T and B cell responses. Here we show that dexamethasone-treated DC (dxDC) differentiated into a subset of DC, characterized by low expression of MHC class II, CD40, CD80, CD86 and CD83 molecules. Compared with LPS-matured DC, dxDC secreted lower IL-12 and higher IL-10 after CD40L activation, and induced lower alloantigenic T cell proliferation. We also show that dxDC pulsed with the dominant Hev b 5 T-cell epitope peptide, Hev b 546–65, inhibited both proliferation of Hev b 5-specific T-cell lines and the production of Hev b 5-specific IgE. Additionally, dxDC induced a subpopulation of IL-10-producing regulatory T cells that suppressed proliferation of Hev b 5-primed T cells. In conclusion, dxDC generated from NRL-allergic patients can modulate allergen-specific T-cell responses and IgE production, supporting their potential use in allergen-specific immunotherapy.
Human γδ T cells augment host defense against tumors and infections, and might have a therapeutic potential in immunotherapy. However, mechanism of γδ T cell proliferation is unclear, and therefore it is difficult to prepare sufficient numbers of γδ T cells for clinical immunotherapy. Recently, natural killer (NK)-like CD56brightCD11c+ cells were shown to promote the proliferation of γδ T cells in an IL-18-dependent manner. In this study, we demonstrated that the NK-like CD56brightCD11c+ cells could directly interact with γδ T cells to promote their sustained expansion, while conventional dendritic cells (DCs), IFN-α-induced DCs, plasmacytoid DCs or monocytes did not. We also examined the cellular mechanism underlying the regulation of CD56brightCD11c+ cells. CD14+ monocytes pre-incubated with IL-2/IL-18 formed intensive interactions with CD56intCD11c+ cells to promote their differentiation to CD56brightCD11c+ cells with helper function. The development of CD56brightCD11c+ cells was suppressed in an IFN-α dependent manner. These results indicate that CD14+ monocytes pretreated with IL-2/IL-18, but neither DCs nor monocytes, play a determining role on the development and proliferation of CD56brightCD11c+ cells, which in turn modulate the expansion of γδ T cells. CD56brightCD11c+ NK-like cells may be a novel target for immunotherapy utilizing γδ T cells, by overcoming the limitation of γδ T cells proliferation.
CTLA4Ig has been successfully used in the clinic for suppression of T cell activation. However, patients treated with CTLA4Ig experienced reduced incidence of tumors than predicted, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. In this paper, we showed that brief administration of CTLA4Ig significantly reduced tumor metastasis and prolonged the survival of host mice bearing B16 melanoma. Depletion of NK cells prior to CTLA4Ig administration eliminated the CTLA4Ig-mediated anti-tumor activity. CTLA4Ig enhanced NK cell cytotoxicity to tumor cells via up-regulation of NK cell effecter molecules CD107a and perforin in vivo. In addition, we demonstrated that, upon activation, NK cells could significantly increase the expression of CD86 both in vitro and in vivo, and ligation of CD86 with CTLA4Ig significantly increased the ability of NK cells to kill tumor cells. Furthermore, a human NK cell line that expressed high level of CD86 was directly activated by CTLA4Ig so that killing of tumor targets was enhanced; this enhanced killing could be inhibited by blocking CD86. Our findings uncover a novel function of CTLA4Ig in tumor immunity and suggest that CD86 on NK cells is an activating receptor and closely involved in the CTLA4Ig-mediated anti-tumor response.
Natural killer (NK) cells are multicompetent lymphocytes of the innate immune system that play a central role in host defense and immune regulation. Although increasing evidence suggests that innate immunity plays a key role in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), the role of NK cells in CRS has been poorly studied. This study aimed to characterize the peripheral blood NK cells from patients with CRS, and to compare the functions of these cells with those from non-CRS controls. The correlation between NK cell functional activity and prognosis was also assessed. Eighteen CRS patients and 19 healthy non-CRS controls were included. The patients with CRS were classified into two subgroups, namely a treatment-responsive group and recalcitrant group. NK cell degranulation was determined by measuring the cell surface expression of CD107a against 721.221 and K562 cells. Intracytoplasmic cytokine production was determined by flow cytometry. Compared to the controls, the NK cells of CRS group had an impaired ability to degranulate and to produce cytokines such as IFN-γ and TNF-α. The recalcitrant subgroup showed the most severe defects in NK cell effector functions. Moreover, the decreased NK cell functions in patients with CRS were associated with poor prognostic factors such as concomitant asthma and peripheral blood eosinophilia. NK cells, which were originally named for their ability to mediate spontaneous cytotoxicity towards diseased cells including infected cells, may play an important role in regulating the inflammatory process in CRS pathogenesis.
Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that play an important role in anti-tumour immunity. Their potential against brain cancer has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo, both as a direct anti-tumour agent and in experimental therapies stimulating endogenous NK cell cytotoxicity. However, the clinical translation of these promising results requires detailed knowledge about the immune status of brain tumour patients, with focus on the NK cell population. In this report, we provide an overview of the studies investigating NK cell infiltration into the tumour, emphasizing the need of revision of the methodologies and further research in this field. We also discuss the potential of using autologous or allogeneic NK cells as effector cells in cellular therapy against brain cancer and developing immunotherapies stimulating endogenous NK cell-mediated anti-tumour response, such as blocking inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptors. Combination of NK cell adoptive transfer with targeted therapies, such as anti-EGFR therapeutic antibody (CetuximAb) could also be a potent strategy.
Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes; NK cells; Brain tumour; Prognosis; Immunotherapy
Although the cell-to-cell contact between CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) and their target cells is important for the suppressor function of Treg cells, the regulation of this process is not well understood. Here we show that the Mst1 kinase plays a critical role in the suppressor function of Treg cells through regulation of cell contact dependent processes. Mst1-/- Treg cells failed to prevent the development of experimental colitis and antigen-specific suppression of naïve T cells proliferation in vitro. Mst1-/- Treg cells exhibited defective interactions with antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs), resulting in reduced down-regulation of costimulatory molecules. While wild-type CD4+ Foxp3+ Treg cells formed mobile immunological synapses on supported planar membrane, Mst1-/- Treg cells did not exhibit ICAM-1 ring or central peptide-MHC clustering. Using two-photon imaging we showed that antigen-specific wild-type Treg cells exhibited dynamic mobile contacts with antigen-pulsed DCs bearing stably associated naïve T cells. In contrast, Mst1-/- Treg had impairments in their interactions with DCs. Thus, Mst1 is required for Treg cells to mediate contact-dependent suppressor functions.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most malignant brain tumor where patients' survival is only 14.6 months, despite multimodal therapy with debulking surgery, concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There is an urgent, unmet need for novel, effective therapeutic strategies for this devastating disease. Although several immunotherapies are under development for the treatment of GBM patients, the use of natural killer (NK) cells is still marginal despite this being a promising approach to treat cancer. In regard of our knowledge on the role of NG2/CSPG4 in promoting GBM aggressiveness we investigated the potential of an innovative immunotherapeutic strategy combining mAb9.2.27 against NG2/CSPG4 and NK cells in preclinical animal models of GBM. Multiple immune escape mechanisms maintain the tumor microenvironment in an anti-inflammatory state to promote tumor growth, however, the distinct roles of resident microglia versus recruited macrophages is not elucidated. We hypothesized that exploiting the cytokine release capabilities of activated NK cells to reverse the anti-inflammatory axis combined with mAb9.2.27 targeting the NG2/CSPG4 may favor tumor destruction by editing pro-GBM immune responses. Combination treatment with NK+mAb9.2.27 diminished tumor growth that was associated with reduced tumor proliferation, increased cellular apoptosis and prolonged survival compared to vehicle and monotherapy controls. The therapeutic efficacy was mediated by recruitment of CCR2low macrophages into the tumor microenvironment, increased ED1 and MHC class II expression on microglia that might render them competent for GBM antigen presentation, as well as elevated IFN-γ and TNF-α levels in the cerebrospinal fluid compared to controls. Depletion of systemic macrophages by liposome-encapsulated clodronate decreased the CCR2low macrophages recruited to the brain and abolished the beneficial outcomes. Moreover, mAb9.2.27 reversed tumor-promoting effects of patient-derived tumor-associated macrophage/ microglia (TAM) ex vivo. Taken together, these findings indicate that NK+mAb9.2.27 treatment may be an amenable therapeutic strategy to treat NG2/CSPG4 expressing GBMs. We provide a novel conceptual approach of combination immunotherapy for glioblastoma. The results traverse beyond the elucidation of NG2/CSPG4 as a therapeutic target, but demonstrate a proof of concept that this antibody may hold potential for the treatment of GBM by activation of tumor infiltrated microglia/macrophages.
Microglia; NK cells; glioblastoma; immunotherapy; NG2/CSPG4
Atopic diseases, including allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis and asthma, are common diseases with a prevalence of 30–40% worldwide and are thus of great global public health importance. Allergic inflammation may influence the immunity against infections, so atopic individuals could be susceptible to respiratory infections. No previous population-based study has addressed the relation between atopy and respiratory infections in adulthood. We assessed the relation between atopic disease, specific IgE antibodies and the occurrence of upper and lower respiratory infections in the past 12 months among working-aged adults.
Methods and Findings
A population-based cross-sectional study of 1008 atopic and non-atopic adults 21–63 years old was conducted. Information on atopic diseases, allergy tests and respiratory infections was collected by a questionnaire. Specific IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens were measured in serum. Adults with atopic disease had a significantly increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI; including acute bronchitis and pneumonia) with an adjusted risk ratio (RR) 2.24 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.43, 3.52) and upper respiratory tract infections (URTI; including common cold, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and otitis media) with an adjusted RR 1.55 (1.14, 2.10). The risk of LRTIs increased with increasing level of specific IgE (linear trend P = 0.059).
This study provides new evidence that working-aged adults with atopic disease experience significantly more LRTIs and URTIs than non-atopics. The occurrence of respiratory infections increased with increasing levels of specific IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens, showing a dose-response pattern with LRTIs. From the clinical point of view it is important to recognize that those with atopies are a risk group for respiratory infections, including more severe LRTIs.
bovis BCG, a live attenuated strain of
bovis initially developed as a vaccine against
tuberculosis, is also used as an adjuvant for immunotherapy of cancers and for
treatment of parasitic infections. The underlying mechanisms are thought to rely
on its immunomodulatory properties including the recruitment of natural killer
(NK) cells. In that context, we aimed to study the impact of
bovis BCG on NK cell functions. We looked at
cytotoxicity, cytokine production, proliferation and cell survival of purified
human NK cells following exposure to single live particles of mycobacteria. We
found that M.
bovis BCG mediates apoptosis of NK cells only
in the context of IL-2 stimulation during which CD56bright NK cells
are releasing IFN-γ in response to mycobacteria. We found that the presence of
mycobacteria prevented the IL-2 induced proliferation and surface expression of
NKp44 receptor by the CD56bright population. In summary, we observed
bovis BCG is modulating the functions of
CD56bright NK cells to drive this subset to produce IFN-γ before
subsequent programmed cell death. Therefore, IFN-γ production by
CD56bright cells constitutes the main effector mechanism of NK
cells that would contribute to the benefits observed for M. bovis BCG as an
Experimental evidence and epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (eLPS) or other TLR agonists prevent asthma. We have previously shown in the OVA-model of asthma that eLPS administration during alum-based allergen sensitization blocked the development of lung TH2 immune responses via MyD88 pathway and IL-12/IFN-γ axis. In the present work we determined the effect of eLPS exposure during sensitization to a natural airborne allergen extract derived from the house dust mite Blomia tropicalis (Bt). Mice were subcutaneously sensitized with Bt allergens co-adsorbed onto alum with or without eLPS and challenged twice intranasally with Bt. Cellular and molecular parameters of allergic lung inflammation were evaluated 24 h after the last Bt challenge. Exposure to eLPS but not to ultrapure LPS (upLPS) preparation during sensitization to Bt allergens decreased the influx of eosinophils and increased the influx of neutrophils to the airways. Inhibition of airway eosinophilia was not observed in IFN-γdeficient mice while airway neutrophilia was not observed in IL-17RA-deficient mice as well in mice lacking MyD88, CD14, TLR4 and, surprisingly, TLR2 molecules. Notably, exposure to a synthetic TLR2 agonist (PamCSK4) also induced airway neutrophilia that was dependent on TLR2 and TLR4 molecules. In the OVA model, exposure to eLPS or PamCSK4 suppressed OVA-induced airway inflammation. Our results suggest that B. tropicalis allergens engage TLR4 that potentiates TLR2 signaling. This dual TLR activation during sensitization results in airway neutrophilic inflammation associated with increased frequency of lung TH17 cells. Our work highlight the complex interplay between bacterial products, house dust mite allergens and TLR signaling in the induction of different phenotypes of airway inflammation.
The murine cytomegalovirus-encoded protein m157 is a cognate ligand for both inhibitory and activating receptors expressed by natural killer cells. Additionally, m157 is expressed on the surface of infected cells by a glycophosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor. Although endogenous GPI-anchored proteins are known to be ligands for the NK cell receptor, NKG2D, the contribution of the GPI anchor for viral m157 ligand function is unknown. To determine whether the GPI anchor for m157 is dispensable for m157 function, we generated m157 variants expressed as transmembrane fusion proteins and tested cells expressing transmembrane m157 for the capacity to activate cognate Ly49 receptors. We found that the GPI anchor is required for high-level cell surface expression of m157, and that the transmembrane m157 ligand retains the capacity to activate reporter cells and NK cells expressing Ly49H, as well as Ly49I129 reporter cells, but with reduced potency. Importantly, target cells expressing the transmembrane form of m157 were killed less efficiently and failed to mediate Ly49H receptor downregulation on fresh NK cells compared to targets expressing GPI-anchored m157. Taken together, these results show that the GPI anchor for m157 facilitates robust cell surface expression, and that NK cells are sensitive to the altered cell surface expression of this potent viral evasin.
Colon cancer comprises a small population of cancer initiating stem cells (CIC) that is responsible for tumor maintenance and resistance to anti-cancer therapies, possibly allowing for tumor recapitulation once treatment stops. Combinations of immune-based therapies with chemotherapy and other anti-tumor agents may be of significant clinical benefit in the treatment of colon cancer. However, cellular immune-based therapies have not been experimented yet in the population of colon CICs. Here, we demonstrate that treatment with low concentrations of commonly used chemotherapeutic agents, 5-fluorouracyl and doxorubicin, sensitize colon CICs to Vγ9Vδ2 T cell cytotoxicity. Vγ9Vδ2 T cell cytotoxicity was largely mediated by TRAIL interaction with DR5, following NKG2D-dependent recognition of colon CIC targets. We conclude that in vivo activation of Vγ9Vδ2 T cells or adoptive administration of ex-vivo expanded Vγ9Vδ2 T cells at suitable intervals after chemotherapy may substantially increase anti-tumor activities and represent a novel strategy for colon cancer immunotherapy.
Natural killer (NK) cell-based adoptive immunotherapy is an attractive adjuvant treatment option for patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Recently, we reported a clinical-grade, cytokine-based culture method for the generation of NK cells from umbilical cord blood (UCB) CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells with high yield, purity and in vitro functionality. The present study was designed to evaluate the in vivo anti-leukemic potential of UCB-NK cells generated with our GMP-compliant culture system in terms of biodistribution, survival and cytolytic activity following adoptive transfer in immunodeficient NOD/SCID/IL2Rgnull mice. Using single photon emission computed tomography, we first demonstrated active migration of UCB-NK cells to bone marrow, spleen and liver within 24 h after infusion. Analysis of the chemokine receptor expression profile of UCB-NK cells matched in vivo findings. Particularly, a firm proportion of UCB-NK cells functionally expressed CXCR4, what could trigger BM homing in response to its ligand CXCL12. In addition, high expression of CXCR3 and CCR6 supported the capacity of UCB-NK cells to migrate to inflamed tissues via the CXCR3/CXCL10-11 and CCR6/CCL20 axis. Thereafter, we showed that low dose IL-15 mediates efficient survival, expansion and maturation of UCB-NK cells in vivo. Most importantly, we demonstrate that a single UCB-NK cell infusion combined with supportive IL-15 administration efficiently inhibited growth of human leukemia cells implanted in the femur of mice, resulting in significant prolongation of mice survival. These preclinical studies strongly support the therapeutic potential of ex vivo-generated UCB-NK cells in the treatment of myeloid leukemia after immunosuppressive chemotherapy.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory, demyelinating and neurodegenerative disease. It is thought to be mediated by CD4+ Th1/Th17 cells. More recently, cells of the innate immune system such as dendritic cells (DCs) and natural killer (NK) cells have been in focus. Glatiramer acetate (GA) is an approved drug for treating MS patients.
In the current study we examined the activities of NK and DCs in nine relapsing remitting MS patients for up to one year after initiation of GA treatment. We observed that NK cells isolated from most of these patients have increased cytotoxic activity against K562 cells. Further analysis showed that the same NK cells lysed both autologous immature (i) and mature (m) DCs. In most patients this increased activity was correlated with increased NK cell activating cytotoxicity receptors such as NKp30, NKp44, NKp46 and NKG2D, and reduced expression of the inhibitory molecule CD158 on the surface of these NK cells. The expression of HLA-DR was increased on iDCs and mDCs in the majority of the patients, but no consistency was observed for the expression of HLA-I or HLA-E. Also, the co-stimulatory receptors CD80, CD83 or CD86 expression was down-regulated on iDCs and mDCs in most cases. Further, the expression of CCR6 was increased on mDCs at later time points of therapy (between 32–48 weeks).
Our results are the first showing the effects of GA treatment on NK cells in MS patients, which may impact future use of this and other drugs to treat this disease.
Tim-3, a member of the novel Tim (T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain) family, has been reported to negatively regulate the immune responses against viral infection and had implications for autoimmune disease. However, the nature and role of Tim-3+ CD4 T cells in human tumors remain largely unknown. In the present study, we characterized Tim-3+ CD4 T cells in 100 specimens from human hepatocellular, cervical, colorectal and ovarian carcinoma patients. Compared with peripheral blood and nontumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, the lymphocytes isolated from the corresponding tumor tissues of hepatocellular, cervical, colorectal and ovarian carcinoma patients contained significantly greater proportion of Tim-3+ CD4 T cells. The majority of tumor-derived Tim-3+ CD4 T cells exhibited an impaired capacity to produce IFN-γ and IL-2, but expressed higher levels of CD25, Foxp3, CTLA-4 and GITR than their Tim-3− CD4 T cell counterparts. In contrast, most Tim-3+ CD4 T cells isolated from the paired nontumor tissues and peripheral blood did not express these molecules. Moreover, tumor-derived Tim-3+ CD4 T cells, but not tumor-derived Tim-3− CD4 T cells, significantly suppressed the proliferation of autologous CD8+ T cells in vitro. Notably, multi-color immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy demonstrated that Tim-3+Foxp3+CD4+ cells were preferentially distributed in the tumor nest rather than the peritumoral stroma of hepatocellular carcinoma. Together, our data indicate that Tim-3-expressing CD4 T cells in human tumors could represent the functional regulatory T cells which contribute to the formation of the immune-suppressive tumor micromilieu.
Natural killer (NK) cells have long been considered as potential agents for adoptive cell therapy for solid cancer patients. Until today most studies utilized autologous NK cells and yielded disappointing results. Here we analyze various modular strategies to employ allogeneic NK cells for adoptive cell transfer, including donor-recipient HLA-C mismatching, selective activation and induction of melanoma-recognizing lysis receptors, and co-administration of antibodies to elicit antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC). We show that NK cell activation and induction of the relevant lysis receptors, as well as co-administration of antibodies yield substantial anti-cancer effects, which are functionally superior to HLA-C mismatching. Combination of the various strategies yielded improved effects. In addition, we developed various clinically-compatible ex vivo expansion protocols that were optimized according to fold expansion, purity and expression of lysis receptors. The main advantages of employing allogeneic NK cells are accessibility, the ability to use a single donor for many patients, combination with various strategies associated with the mechanism of action, e.g. antibodies and specific activation, as well as donor selection according to HLA or CD16 genotypes. This study rationalizes a clinical trial that combines adoptive transfer of highly potent allogeneic NK cells and antibody therapy.
Ex vivo-expanded, allogeneic natural killer (NK) cells can be used for the treatment of various types of cancer. In allogeneic NK cell therapy, NK cells from healthy donors must be expanded in order to obtain a sufficient number of highly purified, activated NK cells. In the present study, we established a simplified and efficient method for the large-scale expansion and activation of NK cells from healthy donors under good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions. After a single step of magnetic depletion of CD3+ T cells, the depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stimulated and expanded with irradiated autologous PBMCs in the presence of OKT3 and IL-2 for 14 days, resulting in a highly pure population of CD3−CD16+CD56+ NK cells which is desired for allogeneic purpose. Compared with freshly isolated NK cells, these expanded NK cells showed robust cytokine production and potent cytolytic activity against various cancer cell lines. Of note, expanded NK cells selectively killed cancer cells without demonstrating cytotoxicity against allogeneic non-tumor cells in coculture assays. The anti-tumor activity of expanded human NK cells was examined in SCID mice injected with human lymphoma cells. In this model, expanded NK cells efficiently controlled lymphoma progression. In conclusion, allogeneic NK cells were efficiently expanded in a GMP-compliant facility and demonstrated potent anti-tumor activity both in vitro and in vivo.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are the quintessential antigen-presenting cells of the human immune system and play a prime role in coordinating innate and adaptive immune responses, explaining the strong and still growing interest in their application for cancer immunotherapy. Much current research in the field of DC-based immunotherapy focuses on optimizing the culture conditions for in vitro DC generation in order to assure that DCs with the best possible immunogenic qualities are being used for immunotherapy. In this context, monocyte-derived DCs that are alternatively induced by interleukin-15 (IL-15 DCs) have attracted recent attention due to their superior immunostimulatory characteristics. In this study, we show that IL-15 DCs, in addition to potent tumor antigen-presenting function, possess tumoricidal potential and thus qualify for the designation of killer DCs. Notwithstanding marked expression of the natural killer (NK) cell marker CD56 on a subset of IL-15 DCs, we found no evidence of a further phenotypic overlap between IL-15 DCs and NK cells. Allostimulation and antigen presentation assays confirmed that IL-15 DCs should be regarded as bona fide myeloid DCs not only from the phenotypic but also from the functional point of view. Concerning their cytotoxic activity, we demonstrate that IL-15 DCs are able to induce apoptotic cell death of the human K562 tumor cell line, while sparing tumor antigen-specific T cells. The cytotoxicity of IL-15 DCs is predominantly mediated by granzyme B and, to a small extent, by tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) but is independent of perforin, Fas ligand and TNF-α. In conclusion, our data provide evidence of a previously unappreciated role for IL-15 in the differentiation of human monocytes towards killer DCs. The observation that IL-15 DCs have killer DC capacity lends further support to their implementation in DC-based immunotherapy protocols.
Theta-defensins (θ-defensins) are macrocyclic antimicrobial peptides expressed in leukocytes of Old World monkeys. The peptides are broad spectrum microbicides in vitro and numerous θ-defensin isoforms have been identified in granulocytes of rhesus macaques and Olive baboons. Several mammalian α- and β-defensins, genetically related to θ-defensins, have proinflammatory and immune-activating properties that bridge innate and acquired immunity. In the current study we analyzed the immunoregulatory properties of rhesus θ-defensins 1–5 (RTDs 1–5). RTD-1, the most abundant θ-defensin in macaques, reduced the levels of TNF, IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8 secreted by blood leukocytes stimulated by several TLR agonists. RTDs 1–5 suppressed levels of soluble TNF released by bacteria- or LPS-stimulated blood leukocytes and THP-1 monocytes. Despite their highly conserved conformation and amino acid sequences, the anti-TNF activities of RTDs 1–5 varied by as much as 10-fold. Systemically administered RTD-1 was non-toxic for BALB/c mice, and escalating intravenous doses were well tolerated and non-immunogenic in adult chimpanzees. The peptide was highly stable in serum and plasma. Single dose administration of RTD-1 at 5 mg/kg significantly improved survival of BALB/c mice with E. coli peritonitis and cecal ligation-and-puncture induced polymicrobial sepsis. Peptide treatment reduced serum levels of several inflammatory cytokines/chemokines in bacteremic animals. Collectively, these results indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties of θ-defensins in vitro and in vivo are mediated by the suppression of numerous proinflammatory cytokines and blockade of TNF release may be a primary effect.
NK cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune system which are a first line of defense against infections and tumor cells, in bone marrow and peripheral organs like lung and spleen. The lung is an organ in contact with respiratory pathogens and the site of inflammatory disorders triggered by the respiratory environment. In contrast, spleen is a lymphatic organ connected to the blood system which regulates the systemic immune response. Here we compare NK cell maturation and expansion as well as expression of NK cell receptors in spleen and lung compartments. We show that spleen and lung NK cells differ in phenotypic and functional characteristics due to a difference of maturity and cellular microenvironment. Indeed we observe that spleen and lung macrophages have the capacity to influence the cytotoxicity of NK cells by cell-to-cell contact. This suggests that the differences of NK cell subsets are in part due to a modulation by the organ environment.
Balance of signals generated from the engaged activating and inhibitory surface receptors regulates mature NK cell activities. The inhibitory receptors signal through immunoreceptor tyrosine based inhibitory motifs (ITIM), and recruit phosphatases such as SHP-1 to inhibit NK cell activation. To directly examine the importance of SHP-1 in regulating activities and cell fate of mature NK cells, we used our established lentiviral-based engineering protocol to knock down the SHP-1 protein expression in primary C57BL/6NCrl cells. Gene silencing of the SHP-1 in primary NK cells abrogated the ability of ITIM-containing NK inhibitory receptors to suppress the activation signals induced by NK1.1 activating receptors. We followed the fates of stably transduced SHP-1 silenced primary NK cells over a longer period of time in IL-2 containing cultures. We observed an impaired IL-2 induced proliferation in the SHP-1 knockdown NK cells. More interestingly, these “de-regulated” SHP-1 knockdown NK cells mediated specific self-killing in a real-time live cell microscopic imaging system we developed to study NK cell cytotoxicity in vitro. Selective target recognition of the SHP-1 knockdown NK cells revealed also possible involvement of the SHP-1 phosphatase in regulating other NK functions in mature NK cells.
The current paradigm suggests that structural homology of allergenic proteins to microbial (particularly helminths) or human proteins underlie their allergenic nature. To examine systematically the structural relationships among allergens and proteins of pathogens (helminths, protozoans, fungi and bacteria) as they relate to allergenicity, we compared the amino acid sequence of 499 molecularly-defined allergens with the predicted proteomes of fifteen known pathogens, including Th2 inducing helminths and Th1-inducing protozoans, and humans using a variety of bioinformatic tools. Allergenicity was assessed based on IgE prevalences using publicly accessible databases and the literature. We found multiple homologues of common allergens among proteins of helminths, protozoans, fungi and humans, but not of bacteria. In contrast, 187 allergens showed no homology with any of the microbial genera studied. Interestingly, allergens without homologues or those with limited levels of sequence conservation were the most allergenic displaying high IgE prevalences in the allergic population. There was an inverse relationship between allergenicity and amino acid conservation levels with either parasite, including helminth, or human proteins. Our results suggest that allergenicity may be associated with the relative “uniqueness” of an antigen, i.e. immunogenicity, while similarity would lead to immunological tolerance.
The hygiene hypothesis implies that microbial agents including probiotic bacteria may modulate foetal/neonatal immune programming and hence offer effective strategies for primary allergy prevention; however their mechanisms of action are poorly understood. We investigated whether oral administration of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC 2461 to mothers during gestation/lactation can protect against airway inflammation in offspring in a mouse model of birch pollen allergy, and examined the immune mechanisms involved.
BALB/c mice were treated daily with L. paracasei in drinking water or drinking water alone in the last week of gestation and during lactation. Their offspring were sensitized with recombinant Bet v 1, followed by aerosol challenge with birch pollen extract.
Maternal exposure to L. paracasei prevented the development of airway inflammation in offspring, as demonstrated by attenuation of eosinophil influx in the lungs; reduction of IL-5 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage, and in lung and mediastinal lymph node cell cultures; and reduced peribronchial inflammatory infiltrate and mucus hypersecretion. While allergen-specific IgE and IgG antibody levels remained unchanged by the treatment, IL-4 and IL-5 production in spleen cell cultures were significantly reduced upon allergen stimulation in offspring of L. paracasei treated mice. Offspring of L. paracasei supplemented mothers had significantly reduced Bet v 1-specific as well as Concanavalin A-induced responses in spleen and mesenteric lymph node cell cultures, suggesting the modulation of both antigen-specific and mitogen-induced immune responses in offspring. These effects were associated with increased Foxp3 mRNA expression in the lungs and increased TGF-beta in serum.
Our data show that in a mouse model of birch pollen allergy, perinatal administration of L. paracasei NCC 2461 to pregnant/lactating mothers protects against the development of airway inflammation in offspring by activating regulatory pathways, likely through TLR2/4 signalling.