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1.  Editorial: The Emerging Role of Monocyte-Derived Cells in the Central Nervous System 
PMCID: PMC4894880  PMID: 27375621
monocyte–macrophage precursor cells; monocyte-derived macrophages; monocyte-derived dendritic cells; neuroimmunomodulation; neuroimmune interactions
2.  The Endogenous Hallucinogen and Trace Amine N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Displays Potent Protective Effects against Hypoxia via Sigma-1 Receptor Activation in Human Primary iPSC-Derived Cortical Neurons and Microglia-Like Immune Cells 
N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a potent endogenous hallucinogen present in the brain of humans and other mammals. Despite extensive research, its physiological role remains largely unknown. Recently, DMT has been found to activate the sigma-1 receptor (Sig-1R), an intracellular chaperone fulfilling an interface role between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. It ensures the correct transmission of ER stress into the nucleus resulting in the enhanced production of antistress and antioxidant proteins. Due to this function, the activation of Sig-1R can mitigate the outcome of hypoxia or oxidative stress. In this paper, we aimed to test the hypothesis that DMT plays a neuroprotective role in the brain by activating the Sig-1R. We tested whether DMT can mitigate hypoxic stress in in vitro cultured human cortical neurons (derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSCs), monocyte-derived macrophages (moMACs), and dendritic cells (moDCs). Results showed that DMT robustly increases the survival of these cell types in severe hypoxia (0.5% O2) through the Sig-1R. Furthermore, this phenomenon is associated with the decreased expression and function of the alpha subunit of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) suggesting that DMT-mediated Sig-1R activation may alleviate hypoxia-induced cellular stress and increase survival in a HIF-1-independent manner. Our results reveal a novel and important role of DMT in human cellular physiology. We postulate that this compound may be endogenously generated in situations of stress, ameliorating the adverse effects of hypoxic/ischemic insult to the brain.
PMCID: PMC5021697  PMID: 27683542
dimethyltryptamine; hypoxia; sigma-1 receptor; cellular survival; cellular stress
3.  Modulatory effects of low-dose hydrogen peroxide on the function of human plasmacytoid dendritic cells 
Free radical biology & medicine  2011;52(3):635-645.
Under normal conditions, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are located in peripheral lymphoid organs or circulate in the blood, from where they can migrate to sites of infection or inflammation. In inflamed tissues, pDCs can be exposed to elevated levels of reactive oxygen species produced by inflammatory cells and we presume that oxidative stress could affect the cellular responses of pDCs to microenvironmental stimuli. To explore this possibility, human pDCs isolated from peripheral blood of healthy donors were treated with H2O2 and R837 (a Toll-like receptor 7 ligand), separately and in combination. Our results demonstrate that treatment with a low concentration (0.01 µM) of H2O2 resulted in only slight changes in the expression of CD40, CD80, CD86, and CD83; however, low-dose H2O2 markedly decreased the expression of HLA-DQ on pDCs. Exposure to H2O2 did not trigger the release of IL-6, TNF-α, IL-8, or IFN-α from pDCs. Although addition of H2O2 did not modify the capacity of pDCs to activate allogeneic IL-17- or IFN-γ-producing T cells, it significantly increased the ability of pDCs to stimulate IL-4-secreting T cells. Exposure of pDCs to H2O2 before cocultivation with naïve autologous T cells significantly lowered IL-10 production by T cells, but did not affect IL-17 release. It was also observed that H2O2-exposed pDCs provided stronger stimuli for Th2 than for Th1 differentiation upon autologous activation, compared to untreated pDCs, possibly because of elevated surface expression of OX40-L. Most importantly, when pDCs were stimulated with R837 in the presence of H2O2, decreased phenotypic activation, decreased chemokine and cytokine release, and impaired allo- and autostimulatory functions of pDCs were detected, indicating that pDCs exposed to oxidative stress in vivo may have an anti-inflammatory or tolerogenic role in regulating adaptive immune responses.
PMCID: PMC4167018  PMID: 22178414
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells; Oxidative stress; Inflammation; Immune regulation; Free radicals
4.  Psychedelic N,N-Dimethyltryptamine and 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine Modulate Innate and Adaptive Inflammatory Responses through the Sigma-1 Receptor of Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106533.
The orphan receptor sigma-1 (sigmar-1) is a transmembrane chaperone protein expressed in both the central nervous system and in immune cells. It has been shown to regulate neuronal differentiation and cell survival, and mediates anti-inflammatory responses and immunosuppression in murine in vivo models. Since the details of these findings have not been elucidated so far, we studied the effects of the endogenous sigmar-1 ligands N,N-dimethyltryptamine (NN-DMT), its derivative 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and the synthetic high affinity sigmar-1 agonist PRE-084 hydrochloride on human primary monocyte-derived dendritic cell (moDCs) activation provoked by LPS, polyI:C or pathogen-derived stimuli to induce inflammatory responses. Co-treatment of moDC with these activators and sigma-1 receptor ligands inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, TNFα and the chemokine IL-8, while increased the secretion of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. The T-cell activating capacity of moDCs was also inhibited, and dimethyltryptamines used in combination with E. coli or influenza virus as stimulators decreased the differentiation of moDC-induced Th1 and Th17 inflammatory effector T-cells in a sigmar-1 specific manner as confirmed by gene silencing. Here we demonstrate for the first time the immunomodulatory potential of NN-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT on human moDC functions via sigmar-1 that could be harnessed for the pharmacological treatment of autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions of the CNS or peripheral tissues. Our findings also point out a new biological role for dimethyltryptamines, which may act as systemic endogenous regulators of inflammation and immune homeostasis through the sigma-1 receptor.
PMCID: PMC4149582  PMID: 25171370
7.  Collaboration of Toll-like and RIG-I-like receptors in human dendritic cells: tRIGgering antiviral innate immune responses 
Dendritic cells (DCs) represent a functionally diverse and flexible population of rare cells with the unique capability of binding, internalizing and detecting various microorganisms and their components. However, the response of DCs to innocuous or pathogenic microbes is highly dependent on the type of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) recognized by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that interact with phylogenetically conserved and functionally indispensable microbial targets that involve both self and foreign structures such as lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. Recently, special attention has been drawn to nucleic acid receptors that are able to evoke robust innate immune responses mediated by type I interferons and inflammatory cytokine production against intracellular pathogens. Both conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (cDCs and pDCs) express specific nucleic acid recognizing receptors, such as members of the membrane Toll-like receptor (TLR) and the cytosolic RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) families. TLR3, TLR7/TLR8 and TLR9 are localized in the endosomal membrane and are specialized for the recognition of viral double-stranded RNA, single-stranded RNA, and nonmethylated DNA, respectively whereas RLRs (RIG-I, MDA5, and LGP2) are cytosolic proteins that sense various viral RNA species. In this review we discuss the significance of detecting the genomic content of viruses by DC subsets capable of linking innate and adaptive immunity, and several viral evasion mechanisms that may allow us to better understand these responses. A particular attention is paid to the possible collaboration of TLR and RLR sensors in anti-viral protection.
PMCID: PMC3808934  PMID: 24179728
Pattern recognition receptors; cross-talk; dendritic cell subsets; interferon; inflammation
8.  The Two-Component Adjuvant IC31® Boosts Type I Interferon Production of Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells via Ligation of Endosomal TLRs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55264.
The aim of this study was to characterize and identify the mode of action of IC31®, a two-component vaccine adjuvant. We found that IC31® was accumulated in human peripheral blood monocytes, MHC class II positive cells and monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs) but not in plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs). In the presence of IC31® the differentiation of inflammatory CD1a+ moDCs and the secretion of chemokines, TNF-α and IL-6 cytokines was inhibited but the production of IFNβ was increased. Sustained addition of IC31® to differentiating moDCs interfered with IκBα phosphorylation, while the level of phospho-IRF3 increased. We also showed that both IC31® and its KLK component exhibited a booster effect on type I IFN responses induced by the specific ligands of TLR3 or TLR7/8, whereas TLR9 ligand induces type I IFN production only in the presence of IC31® or ODN1. Furthermore, long term incubation of moDCs with IC31® caused significantly higher expression of IRF and IFN genes than a single 24 hr treatment. The adjuvant activity of IC31® on the IFN response was shown to be exerted through TLRs residing in the vesicular compartment of moDCs. Based on these results IC31® was identified as a moDC modulatory adjuvant that sets the balance of the NF-κB and IRF3 mediated signaling pathways to the production of IFNβ. Thus IC31® is emerging as a potent adjuvant to increase immune responses against intracellular pathogens and cancer in future vaccination strategies.
PMCID: PMC3566214  PMID: 23405128
9.  Ragweed Subpollen Particles of Respirable Size Activate Human Dendritic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52085.
Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) pollen grains, which are generally considered too large to reach the lower respiratory tract, release subpollen particles (SPPs) of respirable size upon hydration. These SPPs contain allergenic proteins and functional NAD(P)H oxidases. In this study, we examined whether exposure to SPPs initiates the activation of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs). We found that treatment with freshly isolated ragweed SPPs increased the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in moDCs. Phagocytosis of SPPs by moDCs, as demonstrated by confocal laser-scanning microscopy, led to an up-regulation of the cell surface expression of CD40, CD80, CD86, and HLA-DQ and an increase in the production of IL-6, TNF-α, IL-8, and IL-10. Furthermore, SPP-treated moDCs had an increased capacity to stimulate the proliferation of naïve T cells. Co-culture of SPP-treated moDCs with allogeneic CD3+ pan-T cells resulted in increased secretion of IFN-γ and IL-17 by T cells of both allergic and non-allergic subjects, but induced the production of IL-4 exclusively from the T cells of allergic individuals. Addition of exogenous NADPH further increased, while heat-inactivation or pre-treatment with diphenyleneiodonium (DPI), an inhibitor of NADPH oxidases, strongly diminished, the ability of SPPs to induce phenotypic and functional changes in moDCs, indicating that these processes were mediated, at least partly, by the intrinsic NAD(P)H oxidase activity of SPPs. Collectively, our data suggest that inhaled ragweed SPPs are fully capable of activating dendritic cells (DCs) in the airways and SPPs' NAD(P)H oxidase activity is involved in initiation of adaptive immune responses against innocuous pollen proteins.
PMCID: PMC3522620  PMID: 23251688
10.  Pollen-Induced Oxidative Stress Influences Both Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses via Altering Dendritic Cell Functions 
It has been demonstrated that pollen grains contain NAD(P)H oxidases that induce oxidative stress in the airways, and this oxidative insult is critical for the development of allergic inflammation in sensitized mice. On the basis of this observation, we have examined whether pollen grain exposure triggers oxidative stress in dendritic cells (DCs), altering their functions. To test this hypothesis, human monocyte-derived DCs were treated with ragweed pollen grains. Our findings show that exposure to pollen grains induces an increase in the intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species in DCs. Our data also indicate that besides the NAD(P)H oxidases, other component(s) of pollen grains contributes to this phenomenon. Elevated levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species triggered the production of IL-8 as well as proinflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α and IL-6. Treatment with pollen grains initiated the maturation of DCs, strongly upregulated the membrane expression of CD80, CD86, CD83, and HLA-DR, and caused only a slight increase in the expression of CD40. The pollen-treated DCs induced the development of naive T lymphocytes toward effector T cells with a mixed profile of cytokine production. Antioxidant inhibited both the phenotypic and functional changes of DCs, underlining the importance of oxidative stress in these processes. Collectively, these data show that pollen exposure-induced oxidative stress may contribute to local innate immunity and participate in the initiation of adaptive immune responses to pollen Ags.
PMCID: PMC3028537  PMID: 20118277
11.  DC-ATLAS: a systems biology resource to dissect receptor specific signal transduction in dendritic cells 
Immunome Research  2010;6:10.
The advent of Systems Biology has been accompanied by the blooming of pathway databases. Currently pathways are defined generically with respect to the organ or cell type where a reaction takes place. The cell type specificity of the reactions is the foundation of immunological research, and capturing this specificity is of paramount importance when using pathway-based analyses to decipher complex immunological datasets. Here, we present DC-ATLAS, a novel and versatile resource for the interpretation of high-throughput data generated perturbing the signaling network of dendritic cells (DCs).
Pathways are annotated using a novel data model, the Biological Connection Markup Language (BCML), a SBGN-compliant data format developed to store the large amount of information collected. The application of DC-ATLAS to pathway-based analysis of the transcriptional program of DCs stimulated with agonists of the toll-like receptor family allows an integrated description of the flow of information from the cellular sensors to the functional outcome, capturing the temporal series of activation events by grouping sets of reactions that occur at different time points in well-defined functional modules.
The initiative significantly improves our understanding of DC biology and regulatory networks. Developing a systems biology approach for immune system holds the promise of translating knowledge on the immune system into more successful immunotherapy strategies.
PMCID: PMC3000836  PMID: 21092113
12.  Constitutive and UV-B modulated transcription of Nod-like receptors and their functional partners in human corneal epithelial cells 
Molecular Vision  2008;14:1575-1583.
To determine the transcription pattern of Nod-like receptors (NLRs) and inflammasome components (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD [ASC], CARD inhibitor of NFkB-activating ligands [Cardinal], and caspase-1) in human corneal epithelial cells obtained from healthy individuals undergoing photorefractive keratectomy and in immortalized human corneal epithelial cells (HCE-T).
Human corneal epithelial cells were taken from the eyes of healthy individuals by epithelial ablation for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). The SV-40 immortalized human corneal epithelial cell line (HCE-T) was cultured. mRNA obtained from the cells was reverse transcribed and subjected to quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) measurements. Protein obtained from HCE-T cells was studied using the western blot technique. HCE-T cells were irradiated by UV-B light or treated with ultrapure peptidoglycan, and the effects were studied at the mRNA and protein level while the supernatant of the cells was tested for the presence of various cytokines by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methods.
mRNA levels of the studied proteins in the primary cells of the donors were similar in most cases. The transcription of Nod1, Nod2, NLRX1, Nalp1, and Cardinal was similar in the two cell types. While the expression of Nalp3 and Nalp10 was higher in HCE-T cells, ASC and caspase-1 showed higher transcription levels in the primary cells. NLRC5 and Nalp7 were hardly detectable in the studied cells. Functionality of the Nod1/Nod2 system was demonstrated by increased phosphorylation of IkB upon Nod1/Nod2 agonist ultrapure peptidoglycan treatment in HCE-T cells. While UV-B irradiation exerted a downregulation of both Nalp and Nod mRNAs as well as those of inflammasome components in HCE-T cells, longer incubation of the cells after exposure resulted in recovery or upregulation only of the Nalp sensors. At the protein level, we detected a short isoform of Nalp1 and its expression changed in a similar way as its RNA expression, but we could not detect Nalp3 protein. Among the studied cytokines, only IL-6 was detected in the supernatant of HCE-T cells. Its constitutively secreted level increased by only twofold after 24 h of UV-B irradiation.
Based on our experiments, UV-B irradiation appears to exert an immunosilencing effect on the HCE-T cells by downregulating most of the sensor molecules as well as the components of the inflammasomes. Expression profiling of corneal epithelial cells suggested that the HCE-T cells may not serve as a good model for Nalp3 or Nalp1 inflammasome studies but it may be better suited for studies on the Nod1/Nod2 systems.
PMCID: PMC2526096  PMID: 18769647
13.  PPARγ controls CD1d expression by turning on retinoic acid synthesis in developing human dendritic cells 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2006;203(10):2351-2362.
Dendritic cells (DCs) expressing CD1d, a molecule responsible for lipid antigen presentation, are capable of enhancing natural killer T (iNKT) cell proliferation. The signals controlling CD1 expression and lipid antigen presentation are poorly defined. We have shown previously that stimulation of the lipid-activated transcription factor, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ, indirectly regulates CD1d expression. Here we demonstrate that PPARγ, turns on retinoic acid synthesis by inducing the expression of retinol and retinal metabolizing enzymes such as retinol dehydrogenase 10 and retinaldehyde dehydrogenase type 2 (RALDH2). PPARγ-regulated expression of these enzymes leads to an increase in the intracellular generation of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) from retinol. ATRA regulates gene expression via the activation of the retinoic acid receptor (RAR)α in human DCs, and RARα acutely regulates CD1d expression. The retinoic acid–induced elevated expression of CD1d is coupled to enhanced iNKT cell activation. Furthermore, in vivo relevant lipids such as oxidized low-density lipoprotein can also elicit retinoid signaling leading to CD1d up-regulation. These data show that regulation of retinoid metabolism and signaling is part of the PPARγ-controlled transcriptional events in DCs. The uncovered mechanisms allow the DCs to respond to altered lipid homeostasis by changing CD1 gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2118109  PMID: 16982809

Results 1-13 (13)