Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) play an important role in immune suppression and accumulate under pathologic conditions such as cancer and chronic inflammation. They comprise a heterogeneous population of immature myeloid cells that exert their immunosuppressive function via a variety of mechanisms. Immunoglobulin-like transcript 3 (ILT3) is a receptor containing immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motifs (ITIMs) that can be expressed on antigen-presenting cells and is an important regulator of dendritic cell tolerance. ILT3 exists in a membrane-bound and a soluble form and can interact with a yet unidentified ligand on T cells and thereby induce T-cell anergy, regulatory T cells, or T suppressor cells. In this study, we analyzed freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 105 patients with non-small cell lung cancer and 20 healthy controls and demonstrated for the first time that ILT3 is expressed on MDSCs. We show that increased levels of circulating MDSCs correlate with reduced survival. On the basis of ILT3 cell surface expression, an ILT3low and ILT3high population of polymorphonuclear (PMN)-MDSCs could be distinguished. Interestingly, in line with the immunosuppressive function of ILT3 on dendritic cells, patients with an increased proportion of PMN-MDSCs and an increased fraction of the ILT3high subset had a shorter median survival than patients with elevated PMN-MDSC and a smaller ILT3high fraction. No correlation between the ILT3high subset and other immune variables was found. ILT3 expressed on MDSCs might reflect a previously unknown mechanism by which this cell population induces immune suppression and could therefore be an attractive target for immune intervention.
CD85k; immunoglobulin-like transcript 3; immune suppression; LILRB4; LIR-5; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; non-small cell lung cancer; overall survival; APC, antigen-presenting cell; DC, dendritic cell; ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; HC, healthy control; ILT3, immunoglobulin-like transcript 3; MDSC, myeloid-derived suppressor cell; MFI, mean fluorescence intensity; MO-MDSC, monocytic MDSC; NFκB, nuclear factor κB; NSCLC, non-small cell lung carcinoma; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cell; PMN-MDSC, polymorphonuclear MDSC; sILT3, soluble ILT3; Treg, regulatory T cell; Ts, T suppressor cell
Impaired regulatory T cell (Treg) function is thought to contribute to ongoing inflammatory responses in sarcoidosis, but underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Moreover, it is not known if increased apoptotic susceptibility of Tregs may contribute to an impaired immunosuppressive function in sarcoidosis. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze proportions, phenotype, survival, and apoptotic susceptibility of Tregs in sarcoidosis.
Patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis (n = 58) were included at time of diagnosis. Tregs were analyzed in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid and peripheral blood of patients and healthy controls (HC).
In sarcoidosis patients no evidence was found for a relative deficit of Tregs, neither locally nor systemically. Rather, increased proportions of circulating Tregs were observed, most prominently in patients developing chronic disease. Sarcoidosis circulating Tregs displayed adequate expression of FoxP3, CD25 and CTLA4. Remarkably, in sarcoidosis enhanced CD95 expression on circulating activated CD45RO+ Tregs was observed compared with HC, and proportions of these cells were significantly increased. Specifically sarcoidosis Tregs - but not Th cells - showed impaired survival compared with HC. Finally, CD95L-mediated apoptosis was enhanced in sarcoidosis Tregs.
In untreated patients with active pulmonary sarcoidosis, Tregs show impaired survival and enhanced apoptotic susceptibility towards CD95L. Increased apoptosis likely contributes to the insufficient immunosuppressive function of sarcoidosis Tregs. Further research into this field will help determine whether improvement of Treg survival holds a promising new therapeutic approach for chronic sarcoidosis patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-015-0265-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The tumor micro-environment and especially the different macrophage phenotypes appear to be of great influence on the behavior of multiple tumor types. M1 skewed macrophages possess anti-tumoral capacities, while the M2 polarized macrophages have pro-tumoral capacities. We analyzed if the macrophage count and the M2 to total macrophage ratio is a discriminative marker for outcome after surgery in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and studied the prognostic value of these immunological cells.
8 MPM patients who received induction chemotherapy and surgical treatment were matched on age, sex, tumor histology, TNM stage and EORTC score with 8 patients who received chemotherapy only. CD8 positive T-cells and the total macrophage count, using the CD68 pan-macrophage marker, and CD163 positive M2 macrophage count were determined in tumor specimens prior to treatment.
The number of CD68 and CD163 cells was comparable between the surgery and the non-surgery group, and was not related to overall survival (OS) in both the surgery and non-surgery group. However, the CD163/CD68 ratio did correlate with OS in both in the total patient group (Pearson r −0.72, p<0.05). No correlation between the number of CD8 cells and prognosis was found.
The total number of macrophages in tumor tissue did not correlate with OS in both groups, however, the CD163/CD68 ratio correlates with OS in the total patient group. Our data revealed that the CD163/CD68 ratio is a potential prognostic marker in epithelioid mesothelioma patients independent of treatment but cannot be used as a predictive marker for outcome after surgery.
Late diagnosis of lung cancer is still the main reason for high mortality rates in lung cancer. Lung cancer is a heterogeneous disease which induces an immune response to different tumor antigens. Several methods for searching autoantibodies have been described that are based on known purified antigen panels. The aim of our study is to find evidence that parts of the antigen-binding-domain of antibodies are shared among lung cancer patients. This was investigated by a novel approach based on sequencing antigen-binding-fragments (Fab) of immunoglobulins using proteomic techniques without the need of previously known antigen panels. From serum of 93 participants of the NELSON trial IgG was isolated and subsequently digested into Fab and Fc. Fab was purified from the digested mixture by SDS-PAGE. The Fab containing gel-bands were excised, tryptic digested and measured on a nano-LC-Orbitrap-Mass-spectrometry system. Multivariate analysis of the mass spectrometry data by linear canonical discriminant analysis combined with stepwise logistic regression resulted in a 12-antibody-peptide model which was able to distinguish lung cancer patients from controls in a high risk population with a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 90%. With our Fab-purification combined Orbitrap-mass-spectrometry approach, we found peptides from the variable-parts of antibodies which are shared among lung cancer patients.
A very recent finding is the role of immune activation in cancer. The assumption that stimulating the patient’s immune system to attack tumors is a valuable treatment option in malignant diseases has gained more acceptance. However the high immunosuppressive effects caused by the tumor limits this beneficial effect. There is a delicate balance between immunoactivation and immunosuppression in a patient. Especially in non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the role of immunosuppressive cells hampering immune activation is high. But also in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and mesothelioma immunosuppressive activity is high. This is suggested to be related to the type of tumor, advanced stage of the disease, and the tumor load. In this review, we provide an overview of the progress and challenges in the immunotherapeutic approaches in lung cancer. We conclude with the concept that immunotherapy in thoracic malignancies must be tailored made to the balance of the immune system.
Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); immunotherapy; immune checkpoint antibodies
It is currently unknown how mucosal adjuvants cause induction of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), and how T cell-dependent (TD) or -independent (TI) pathways might be involved. Mucosal dendritic cells (DCs) are the primary antigen presenting cells driving TI IgA synthesis, by producing a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL), B cell activating factor (BAFF), Retinoic Acid (RA), TGF-β or nitric oxide (NO). We hypothesized that the mucosal adjuvant Cholera Toxin subunit B (CTB) could imprint non-mucosal DCs to induce IgA synthesis, and studied the mechanism of its induction. In vitro, CTB-treated bone marrow derived DCs primed for IgA production by B cells without the help of T cells, yet required co-signaling by different Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands acting via the MyD88 pathway. CTB-DC induced IgA production was blocked in vitro or in vivo when RA receptor antagonist, TGF-β signaling inhibitor or neutralizing anti-TGF-β was added, demonstrating the involvement of RA and TGF-β in promoting IgA responses. There was no major involvement for BAFF, APRIL or NO. This study highlights that synergism between CTB and MyD88-dependent TLR signals selectively imprints a TI IgA-inducing capacity in non-mucosal DCs, explaining how CTB acts as an IgA promoting adjuvant.
Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disorder of unknown cause, affecting multiple organs, but mainly the lungs. The exact order of immunological events remains obscure. Reviewing current literature, combined with careful clinical observations, we propose a model for granuloma formation in pulmonary sarcoidosis. A tight collaboration between macrophages, dendritic cells, and lymphocyte subsets, initiates the first steps toward granuloma formation, orchestrated by cytokines and chemokines. In a substantial part of pulmonary sarcoidosis patients, granuloma formation becomes an on-going process, leading to debilitating disease, and sometimes death. The immunological response, determining granuloma sustainment is not well understood. An impaired immunosuppressive function of regulatory T cells has been suggested to contribute to the exaggerated response. Interestingly, therapeutical agents commonly used in sarcoidosis, such as glucocorticosteroids and anti-TNF agents, interfere with granuloma integrity and restore the immune homeostasis in autoimmune disorders. Increasing insight into their mechanisms of action may contribute to the search for new therapeutical targets in pulmonary sarcoidosis.
pulmonary sarcoidosis; granuloma; formation; integrity; dendritic cells; T helper 1 cells; T helper 17 cells; regulatory T cells
Cancer research has devoted most of its energy over the past decades on unraveling the control mechanisms within tumor cells that govern its behavior. From this we know that the onset of cancer is the result of cumulative genetic mutations and epigenetic alterations in tumor cells leading to an unregulated cell cycle, unlimited replicative potential and the possibility for tissue invasion and metastasis. Until recently it was often thought that tumors are more or less undetected or tolerated by the patient’s immune system causing the neoplastic cells to divide and spread without resistance. However, it is without any doubt that the tumor environment contains a wide variety of recruited host immune cells. These tumor infiltrating immune cells influence anti-tumor responses in opposing ways and emerges as a critical regulator of tumor growth. Here we provide a summary of the relevant immunological cell types and their complex and dynamic roles within an established tumor microenvironment. For this, we focus on both the systemic compartment as well as the local presence within the tumor microenvironment of late-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), admitting that this multifaceted cellular composition will be different from earlier stages of the disease, between NSCLC patients. Understanding the paradoxical role that the immune system plays in cancer and increasing options for their modulation may alter the odds in favor of a more effective anti-tumor immune response. We predict that the future standard of care of lung cancer will involve patient-tailor-made combination therapies that associate (traditional) chemotherapeutic drugs and biologicals with immune modulating agents and in this way complement the therapeutic armamentarium for this disease.
Lung cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Immune system; Personalized medicine; Cancer immunology
Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease characterized by a seemingly exaggerated immune response against a difficult to discern antigen. Dendritic cells (DCs) are pivotal antigen presenting cells thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis. Paradoxically, decreased DC immune reactivity was reported in blood samples from pulmonary sarcoidosis patients. However, functional data on lung DCs in sarcoidosis are lacking. We hypothesized that at the site of disease DCs are mature, immunocompetent and involved in granuloma formation.
We analyzed myeloid DCs (mDCs) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) in broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) and blood from newly diagnosed, untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis patients and healthy controls using 9-color flowcytometry. DCs, isolated from BAL using flowcytometric sorting (mDCs) or cultured from monocytes (mo-DCs), were functionally assessed in a mixed leukocyte reaction with naïve allogeneic CD4+ T cells. Using Immunohistochemistry, location and activation status of CD11c+DCs was assessed in mucosal airway biopsies.
mDCs in BAL, but not in blood, from sarcoidosis patients were increased in number when compared with mDCs from healthy controls. mDCs purified from BAL of sarcoidosis patients induced T cell proliferation and differentiation and did not show diminished immune reactivity. Mo-DCs from patients induced increased TNFα release in co-cultures with naïve allogeneic CD4+ T cells. Finally, immunohistochemical analyses revealed increased numbers of mature CD86+ DCs in granuloma-containing airway mucosal biopsies from sarcoidosis patients.
Taken together, these finding implicate increased local DC activation in granuloma formation or maintenance in pulmonary sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis; Dendritic cells; Bronchoalveolar lavage; Granuloma; TNFα
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of the subtype H5N1 causes severe, often fatal pneumonia in humans. The pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 infection is not completely understood, although the alveolar macrophage (AM) is thought to play an important role. HPAIV H5N1 infection of macrophages cultured from monocytes leads to high percentages of infection accompanied by virus production and an excessive pro-inflammatory immune response. However, macrophages cultured from monocytes are different from AM, both in phenotype and in response to seasonal influenza virus infection. Consequently, it remains unclear whether the results of studies with macrophages cultured from monocytes are valid for AM. Therefore we infected AM and for comparison macrophages cultured from monocytes with seasonal H3N2 virus, HPAIV H5N1 or pandemic H1N1 virus, and determined the percentage of cells infected, virus production and induction of TNF-alpha, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. In vitro HPAIV H5N1 infection of AM compared to that of macrophages cultured from monocytes resulted in a lower percentage of infected cells (up to 25% vs up to 84%), lower virus production and lower TNF-alpha induction. In vitro infection of AM with H3N2 or H1N1 virus resulted in even lower percentages of infected cells (up to 7%) than with HPAIV H5N1, while virus production and TNF-alpha induction were comparable. In conclusion, this study reveals that macrophages cultured from monocytes are not a good model to study the interaction between AM and these influenza virus strains. Furthermore, the interaction between HPAIV H5N1 and AM could contribute to the pathogenicity of this virus in humans, due to the relative high percentage of infected cells rather than virus production or an excessive TNF-alpha induction.
Alveolar macrophages (AM), which reside in the alveolar lumen, usually dampen down the host immune response to incoming pathogens. However, they are thought to increase inflammation during highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 infections, which cause severe and often fatal disease in humans. This is based on experiments with human macrophages cultured from monocytes rather than with human AM. Here we show that human AM, collected via broncho-alveolar lavage from healthy volunteers, can become infected with HPAIV H5N1. However, this results in neither induction of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha nor virus production. Therefore, AM are most likely not responsible for the excessive cytokine response or high viral load during human HPAIV H5N1 infections as assumed previously. These data significantly changes our insight into the pathogenesis of HPAIV H5N1 pneumonia in humans, indicating that other cells than AM must be responsible for the excessive pro-inflammatory cytokine profile observed during HPAIV H5N1 infections.
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are a heterogeneous population of immature cells that accumulates in tumour-bearing hosts. These cells are induced by tumour-derived factors (e.g. prostaglandins) and have a critical role in immune suppression. MDSC suppress T and NK cell function via increased expression of arginase I and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO). Immune suppression by MDSC was found to be one of the main factors for immunotherapy insufficiency. Here we investigate if the in vivo immunoregulatory function of MDSC can be reversed by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis by specific COX-2 inhibition focussing on ROS production by MDSC subtypes. In addition, we determined if dietary celecoxib treatment leads to refinement of immunotherapeutic strategies.
MDSC numbers and function were analysed during tumour progression in a murine model for mesothelioma. Mice were inoculated with mesothelioma tumour cells and treated with cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib, either as single agent or in combination with dendritic cell-based immunotherapy.
We found that large numbers of infiltrating MDSC co-localise with COX-2 expression in those areas where tumour growth takes place. Celecoxib reduced prostaglandin E2 levels in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of tumour-bearing mice with dietary celecoxib prevented the local and systemic expansion of all MDSC subtypes. The function of MDSC was impaired as was noticed by reduced levels of ROS and NO and reversal of T cell tolerance; resulting in refinement of immunotherapy.
We conclude that celecoxib is a powerful tool to improve dendritic cell-based immunotherapy and is associated with a reduction in the numbers and suppressive function of MDSC. These data suggest that immunotherapy approaches benefit from simultaneously blocking cyclooxygenase-2 activity.
The bloodstream is an important route of dissemination of invading pathogens. Most of the small bloodborne pathogens, like bacteria or viruses, are filtered by the spleen or liver sinusoids and presented to the immune system by dendritic cells (DCs) that probe these filters for the presence of foreign antigen (Ag). However, larger pathogens, like helminths or infectious emboli, that exceed 20 µm are mostly trapped in the vasculature of the lung. To determine if Ag trapped here can be presented to cells of the immune system, we used a model of venous embolism of large particulate Ag (in the form of ovalbumin [OVA]-coated Sepharose beads) in the lung vascular bed. We found that large Ags were presented and cross-presented to CD4 and CD8 T cells in the mediastinal lymph nodes (LNs) but not in the spleen or liver-draining LNs. Dividing T cells returned to the lungs, and a short-lived infiltrate consisting of T cells and DCs formed around trapped Ag. This infiltrate was increased when the Toll-like receptor 4 was stimulated and full DC maturation was induced by CD40 triggering. Under these conditions, OVA-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses, as well as humoral immunity, were induced. The T cell response to embolic Ag was severely reduced in mice depleted of CD11chi cells or Ly6C/G+ cells but restored upon adoptive transfer of Ly6Chi monocytes. We conclude that the lung vascular filter represents a largely unexplored site of immune induction that traps large bloodborne Ags for presentation by monocyte-derived DCs.
Clinical immunotherapy trials like dendritic cell-based vaccinations are hampered by the tumor's offensive repertoire that suppresses the incoming effector cells. Regulatory T cells are instrumental in suppressing the function of cytotoxic T cells. We studied the effect of low-dose cyclophosphamide on the suppressive function of regulatory T cells and investigated if the success rate of dendritic cell immunotherapy could be improved.
For this, mesothelioma tumor-bearing mice were treated with dendritic cell-based immunotherapy alone or in combination with low-dose of cyclophosphamide. Proportions of regulatory T cells and the cytotoxic T cell functions at different stages of disease were analyzed. We found that low-dose cyclophosphamide induced beneficial immunomodulatory effects by preventing the induction of Tregs, and as a consequence, cytotoxic T cell function was no longer affected. Addition of cyclophosphamide improved immunotherapy leading to an increased median and overall survival. Future studies are needed to address the usefulness of this combination treatment for mesothelioma patients.
Current clinical therapy of non-small cell lung cancer depends on histo-pathological classification. This approach poorly predicts clinical outcome for individual patients. Gene expression profiling holds promise to improve clinical stratification, thus paving the way for individualized therapy.
Methodology and Principal Findings
A genome-wide gene expression analysis was performed on a cohort of 91 patients. We used 91 tumor- and 65 adjacent normal lung tissue samples. We defined sets of predictor genes (probe sets) with the expression profiles. The power of predictor genes was evaluated using an independent cohort of 96 non-small cell lung cancer- and 6 normal lung samples. We identified a tumor signature of 5 genes that aggregates the 156 tumor and normal samples into the expected groups. We also identified a histology signature of 75 genes, which classifies the samples in the major histological subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer. Correlation analysis identified 17 genes which showed the best association with post-surgery survival time. This signature was used for stratification of all patients in two risk groups. Kaplan-Meier survival curves show that the two groups display a significant difference in post-surgery survival time (p = 5.6E-6). The performance of the signatures was validated using a patient cohort of similar size (Duke University, n = 96). Compared to previously published prognostic signatures for NSCLC, the 17 gene signature performed well on these two cohorts.
The gene signatures identified are promising tools for histo-pathological classification of non-small cell lung cancer, and may improve the prediction of clinical outcome.
Natural killer cells are innate effector cells known for their potential to produce interferon-γ and kill tumour and virus-infected cells. Recently, B220+CD11cintNK1.1+ NK cells were found to also have antigen-presenting capacity like dendritic cells (DC), hence their name interferon-producing killer DC (IKDC). Shortly after discovery, it has already been questioned if IKDC really represent a separate subset of NK cells or merely represent a state of activation. Despite similarities with DCs, in vivo evidence that they behave as bona fide APCs is lacking. Here, using a model of influenza infection, we found recruitment of both conventional B220− NK cells and IKDCs to the lung. To study antigen-presenting capacity of NK cell subsets and compare it to cDCs, all cell subsets were sorted from lungs of infected mice and co-cultured ex vivo with antigen specific T cells. Both IKDCs and conventional NK cells as well as cDCs presented virus-encoded antigen to CD8 T cells, whereas only cDCs presented to CD4 T cells. The absence of CD4 responses was predominantly due to a deficiency in MHCII processing, as preprocessed peptide antigen was presented equally well by cDCs and IKDCs. In vivo, the depletion of NK1.1-positive NK cells and IKDCs reduced the expansion of viral nucleoprotein-specific CD8 T cells in the lung and spleen, but did finally not affect viral clearance from the lung. In conclusion, we found evidence for APC function of lung NK cells during influenza infection, but this is a feature not exclusive to the IKDC subset.
Although dendritic cells (DCs) play an important role in mediating protection against influenza virus, the precise role of lung DC subsets, such as CD11b− and CD11b+ conventional DCs or plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs), in different lung compartments is currently unknown. Early after intranasal infection, tracheal CD11b−CD11chi DCs migrated to the mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs), acquiring co-stimulatory molecules in the process. This emigration from the lung was followed by an accumulation of CD11b+CD11chi DCs in the trachea and lung interstitium. In the MLNs, the CD11b+ DCs contained abundant viral nucleoprotein (NP), but these cells failed to present antigen to CD4 or CD8 T cells, whereas resident CD11b−CD8α+ DCs presented to CD8 cells, and migratory CD11b−CD8α− DCs presented to CD4 and CD8 T cells. When lung CD11chi DCs and macrophages or langerin+CD11b−CD11chi DCs were depleted using either CD11c–diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) or langerin-DTR mice, the development of virus-specific CD8+ T cells was severely delayed, which correlated with increased clinical severity and a delayed viral clearance. 120G8+ CD11cint pDCs also accumulated in the lung and LNs carrying viral NP, but in their absence, there was no effect on viral clearance or clinical severity. Rather, in pDC-depleted mice, there was a reduction in antiviral antibody production after lung clearance of the virus. This suggests that multiple DCs are endowed with different tasks in mediating protection against influenza virus.
Alum (aluminum hydroxide) is the most widely used adjuvant in human vaccines, but the mechanism of its adjuvanticity remains unknown. In vitro studies showed no stimulatory effects on dendritic cells (DCs). In the absence of adjuvant, Ag was taken up by lymph node (LN)–resident DCs that acquired soluble Ag via afferent lymphatics, whereas after injection of alum, Ag was taken up, processed, and presented by inflammatory monocytes that migrated from the peritoneum, thus becoming inflammatory DCs that induced a persistent Th2 response. The enhancing effects of alum on both cellular and humoral immunity were completely abolished when CD11c+ monocytes and DCs were conditionally depleted during immunization. Mechanistically, DC-driven responses were abolished in MyD88-deficient mice and after uricase treatment, implying the induction of uric acid. These findings suggest that alum adjuvant is immunogenic by exploiting “nature's adjuvant,” the inflammatory DC through induction of the endogenous danger signal uric acid.
Prostaglandins (PGs) can enhance or suppress inflammation by acting on different receptors expressed by hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells. Prostaglandin D2 binds to the D prostanoid (DP)1 and DP2 receptor and is seen as a critical mediator of asthma causing vasodilation, bronchoconstriction, and inflammatory cell influx. Here we show that inhalation of a selective DP1 agonist suppresses the cardinal features of asthma by targeting the function of lung dendritic cells (DCs). In mice treated with DP1 agonist or receiving DP1 agonist-treated DCs, there was an increase in Foxp3+ CD4+ regulatory T cells that suppressed inflammation in an interleukin 10–dependent way. These effects of DP1 agonist on DCs were mediated by cyclic AMP–dependent protein kinase A. We furthermore show that activation of DP1 by an endogenous ligand inhibits airway inflammation as chimeric mice with selective hematopoietic loss of DP1 had strongly enhanced airway inflammation and antigen-pulsed DCs lacking DP1 were better at inducing airway T helper 2 responses in the lung. Triggering DP1 on DCs is an important mechanism to induce regulatory T cells and to control the extent of airway inflammation. This pathway could be exploited to design novel treatments for asthma.
Inhalation of iloprost, a stable prostacyclin (PGI2) analog, is a well-accepted and safe treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension. Although iloprost mainly acts as a vasodilator by binding to the I prostanoid (IP) receptor, recent evidence suggests that signaling via this receptor also has antiinflammatory effects through unclear mechanisms. Here we show in a murine model of asthma that iloprost inhalation suppressed the cardinal features of asthma when given during the priming or challenge phase. As a mechanism of action, iloprost interfered with the function of lung myeloid DCs, critical antigen-presenting cells of the airways. Iloprost treatment inhibited the maturation and migration of lung DCs to the mediastinal LNs, thereby abolishing the induction of an allergen-specific Th2 response in these nodes. The effect of iloprost was DC autonomous, as iloprost-treated DCs no longer induced Th2 differentiation from naive T cells or boosted effector cytokine production in primed Th2 cells. These data should pave the way for a clinical effectiveness study using inhaled iloprost for the treatment of asthma.
Airway DCs play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of allergic asthma, and interfering with their function could constitute a novel form of therapy. The sphingosine 1–phosphate receptor agonist FTY720 is an oral immunosuppressant that retains lymphocytes in lymph nodes and spleen, thus preventing lymphocyte migration to inflammatory sites. The accompanying lymphopenia could be a serious side effect that would preclude the use of FTY720 as an antiasthmatic drug. Here we show in a murine asthma model that local application of FTY720 via inhalation prior to or during ongoing allergen challenge suppresses Th2-dependent eosinophilic airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness without causing lymphopenia and T cell retention in the lymph nodes. Effectiveness of local treatment was achieved by inhibition of the migration of lung DCs to the mediastinal lymph nodes, which in turn inhibited the formation of allergen-specific Th2 cells in lymph nodes. Also, FTY720-treated DCs were intrinsically less potent in activating naive and effector Th2 cells due to a reduced capacity to form stable interactions with T cells and thus to form an immunological synapse. These data support the concept that targeting the function of airway DCs with locally acting drugs is a powerful new strategy in the treatment of asthma.
Although dendritic cells (DCs) play an important role in sensitization to inhaled allergens, their function in ongoing T helper (Th)2 cell–mediated eosinophilic airway inflammation underlying bronchial asthma is currently unknown. Here, we show in an ovalbumin (OVA)-driven murine asthma model that airway DCs acquire a mature phenotype and interact with CD4+ T cells within sites of peribronchial and perivascular inflammation. To study whether DCs contributed to inflammation, we depleted DCs from the airways of CD11c-diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor transgenic mice during the OVA aerosol challenge. Airway administration of DT depleted CD11c+ DCs and alveolar macrophages and abolished the characteristic features of asthma, including eosinophilic inflammation, goblet cell hyperplasia, and bronchial hyperreactivity. In the absence of CD11c+ cells, endogenous or adoptively transferred CD4+ Th2 cells did not produce interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-13 in response to OVA aerosol. In CD11c-depleted mice, eosinophilic inflammation and Th2 cytokine secretion were restored by adoptive transfer of CD11c+ DCs, but not alveolar macrophages. These findings identify lung DCs as key proinflammatory cells that are necessary and sufficient for Th2 cell stimulation during ongoing airway inflammation.
Tolerance is the usual outcome of inhalation of harmless antigen, yet T helper (Th) type 2 cell sensitization to inhaled allergens induced by dendritic cells (DCs) is common in atopic asthma. Here, we show that both myeloid (m) and plasmacytoid (p) DCs take up inhaled antigen in the lung and present it in an immunogenic or tolerogenic form to draining node T cells. Strikingly, depletion of pDCs during inhalation of normally inert antigen led to immunoglobulin E sensitization, airway eosinophilia, goblet cell hyperplasia, and Th2 cell cytokine production, cardinal features of asthma. Furthermore, adoptive transfer of pDCs before sensitization prevented disease in a mouse asthma model. On a functional level, pDCs did not induce T cell division but suppressed the generation of effector T cells induced by mDCs. These studies show that pDCs provide intrinsic protection against inflammatory responses to harmless antigen. Therapies exploiting pDC function might be clinically effective in preventing the development of asthma.
asthma; plasmacytoid dendritic cells; tolerance; mucosal immunity; regulatory T cell