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1.  Inflammasome Activation Is Critical to the Protective Immune Response during Chemically Induced Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107170.
Chronic inflammation affects most stages of tumorigenesis, including initiation, promotion, malignant differentiation, invasion and metastasis. Inflammasomes have been described as involved with persistent inflammation and are known to exert both pro and antitumour effects. We evaluated the influence of apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (ASC) and caspase (CASP)-1 in the antitumor immune response using a multistage model of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) development. Absence of ASC and CASP-1 resulted in an earlier incidence and increased number of papilloma. Loss of inflammassome function in mice resulted in decreased presence of natural killer (NK), dendritic (DC), CD4+, CD8+ and CD45RB+ T cells in the tumor lesions as well as in lymph nodes (LN) compared with WT mice. Increased percentage of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cells was associated with association with inflammasome loss of function. Moreover, significant differences were also found with neutrophils and macrophage infiltrating the lesions. Myeloperoxidase (MPO), but not elastase (ELA), activity oscillated among the groups during the SCC development. Levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-18, Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α and Interferon (IFN)-γ were decreased in the tumor microenvironment in the absence of inflammasome proteins. These observations suggest a link between inflammasome function and SCC tumorigenesis, indicating an important role for inflammasome activation in the control of SCC development.
PMCID: PMC4182037  PMID: 25268644
2.  Preserving Sialic Acid-dependent Pattern Recognition by CD24-Siglec G Interaction for Therapy of Polybacterial Sepsis 
Nature biotechnology  2011;29(5):428-435.
Control of inflammation is critical for therapy of infectious diseases. Pathogen-associated and/or danger-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs and DAMPs, respectively) are the two major inducers of inflammation. Because the CD24-Siglec G/10 interactions selectively repress inflammatory response to DAMPs, microbial disruption of the negative regulation would provide a general mechanism to exacerbate inflammation. Here we show that the sialic acid-based pattern recognitions of CD24 by Siglec G/10 are targeted by sialidases in polybacterial sepsis. Sialidase inhibitors protect mice against sepsis by a CD24-Siglecg-dependent mechanism, whereas a targeted mutation of either CD24 or Siglecg exacerbates sepsis. Bacterial sialidase and host CD24 and Siglecg genes interact to determine pathogen virulence. Our data demonstrate a critical role for disrupting sialic acid-based pattern recognitions in microbial virulence and suggest a therapeutic approach to dampen harmful inflammatory response during infection.
PMCID: PMC4090080  PMID: 21478876
3.  Cytokine Induced Phenotypic and Epigenetic Signatures Are Key to Establishing Specific Macrophage Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78045.
Macrophages (MΦ) play an essential role in innate immune responses and can either display a pro-inflammatory, classically activated phenotype (M1) or undergo an alternative activation program (M2) promoting immune regulation. M-CSF is used to differentiate monocytes into MΦ and IFN-γ or IL-4+IL-13 to further polarize these cells towards M1 or M2, respectively. Recently, differentiation using only GM-CSF or M-CSF has been described to induce a M1- or M2-like phenotype, respectively. In this study, we combined both approaches by differentiating human MΦ in GM-CSF or M-CSF followed by polarization with either IFN-γ or IL-4+IL-13. We describe the phenotypic differences between CD14hi CD163hi CD206int FOLR2-expressing M-CSF MΦ and CD14lo CD163lo CD206hi GM-CSF MΦ but show that both macrophage populations reacted similarly to further polarization with IFN-γ or IL-4+IL-13 with up- and down-regulation of common M1 and M2 marker genes. We also show that high expression of the mannose receptor (CD206), a marker of alternative activation, is a distinct feature of GM-CSF MΦ. Changes of the chromatin structure carried out by chromatin modification enzymes (CME) have been shown to regulate myeloid differentiation. We analyzed the expression patterns of CME during MΦ polarization and show that M1 up-regulate the histone methyltransferase MLL and demethylase KDM6B, while resting and M2 MΦ were characterized by DNA methyltransferases and histone deacetylases. We demonstrate that MLL regulates CXCL10 expression and that this effect could be abrogated using a MLL-Menin inhibitor. Taken together we describe the distinct phenotypic differences of GM-CSF or M-CSF MΦ and demonstrate that MΦ polarization is regulated by specific epigenetic mechanisms. In addition, we describe a novel role for MLL as marker for classical activation. Our findings provide new insights into MΦ polarization that could be helpful to distinguish MΦ activation states.
PMCID: PMC3804553  PMID: 24205083
4.  Toll Like Receptor 3 Plays a Critical Role in the Progression and Severity of Acetaminophen-Induced Hepatotoxicity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65899.
Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation has been implicated in acetaminophen (APAP)-induced hepatotoxicity. Herein, we hypothesize that TLR3 activation significantly contributed to APAP-induced liver injury. In fasted wildtype (WT) mice, APAP caused significant cellular necrosis, edema, and inflammation in the liver, and the de novo expression and activation of TLR3 was found to be necessary for APAP-induced liver failure. Specifically, liver tissues from similarly fasted TLR3-deficient (tlr3−/−) mice exhibited significantly less histological and biochemical evidence of injury after APAP challenge. Similar protective effects were observed in WT mice in which TLR3 was targeted through immunoneutralization at 3 h post-APAP challenge. Among three important death ligands (i.e. TNFα, TRAIL, and FASL) known to promote hepatocyte death after APAP challenge, TNFα was the only ligand that was significantly reduced in APAP-challenged tlr3−/− mice compared with APAP-challenged WT controls. In vivo studies demonstrated that TLR3 activation contributed to TNFα production in the liver presumably via F4/80+ and CD11c+ immune cells. In vitro studies indicated that there was cooperation between TNFα and TLR3 in the activation of JNK signaling in isolated and cultured liver epithelial cells (i.e. nMuLi). Moreover, TLR3 activation enhanced the expression of phosphorylated JNK in APAP injured livers. Thus, the current study demonstrates that TLR3 activation contributes to APAP-induced hepatotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3676358  PMID: 23762449
5.  CCR6 as a mediator of immunity in the lung and gut 
Experimental cell research  2011;317(5):613-619.
Chemokines are key mediators of leukocyte recruitment during pathogenic insult and also play a prominent role in homeostasis. While most chemokine receptors bind to multiple chemokines, CCR6 is unique in that this receptor is one of only a few that can bind only a single chemokine ligand, CCL20. CCR6 is an important receptor that is involved in regulating several aspects of mucosal immunity, including the ability to mediate the recruitment of immature dendritic cells (DCs) and mature DCs, and professional antigen presenting cells (APCs) to the sites of epithelial inflammation. Further, CCR6 mediates the homing of both CD4+ T (T-helper; Th) cells and DCs to the gut mucosal lymphoid tissue. DCs, which are known to be essential immune cells in innate immunity and in the initiation of adaptive immunity, play a central role in initiating a primary immune response Herein, we summarize the role of CCR6 in immune responses at epithelial and mucosal sites in both the lung and gut based on a review of the current literature.
PMCID: PMC3063449  PMID: 21376174
CCR6; innate immunity; mucosal immunity; dendritic cell
6.  The Critical Role of Notch Ligand Delta-like 1 in the Pathogenesis of Influenza A Virus (H1N1) Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002341.
Influenza A viral infections have been identified as the etiologic agents for historic pandemics, and contribute to the annual mortality associated with acute viral pneumonia. While both innate and acquired immunity are important in combating influenza virus infection, the mechanism connecting these arms of the immune system remains unknown. Recent data have indicated that the Notch system is an important bridge between antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and T cell communication circuits and plays a central role in driving the immune system to overcome disease. In the present study, we examine the role of Notch signaling during influenza H1N1 virus infection, focusing on APCs. We demonstrate here that macrophages, but not dendritic cells (DCs), increased Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1) expression following influenza virus challenge. Dll1 expression on macrophages was dependent on retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) induced type-I IFN pathway, and not on the TLR3-TRIF pathway. We also found that IFNα-Receptor knockout mice failed to induce Dll1 expression on lung macrophages and had enhanced mortality during influenza virus infection. Our results further showed that specific neutralization of Dll1 during influenza virus challenge induced higher mortality, impaired viral clearance, and decreased levels of IFN-γ. In addition, we blocked Notch signaling by using γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI), a Notch signaling inhibitor. Intranasal administration of GSI during influenza infection also led to higher mortality, and higher virus load with excessive inflammation and an impaired production of IFN-γ in lungs. Moreover, Dll1 expression on macrophages specifically regulates IFN-γ levels from CD4+and CD8+T cells, which are important for anti-viral immunity. Together, the results of this study show that Dll1 positively influences the development of anti-viral immunity, and may provide mechanistic approaches for modifying and controlling the immune response against influenza H1N1 virus infection.
Author Summary
Influenza viruses cause annual epidemics and occasional pandemics that have claimed the lives of millions. Both innate and acquired immunity are essential for protection against influenza virus, and Notch and Notch ligands provide a key bridge between innate and acquired immunity. However, the role of Notch system during influenza virus infection is unknown. Here, we show that Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1) expression was up-regulated in influenza virus H1N1 challenged macrophages, and was dependent on both retinoic-acid–inducible protein I (RIG-I) and IFNα receptor (IFNαR)-mediated pathways. IFNαR-deficient mice challenged with influenza virus in vivo also display a profoundly impaired Dll1 expression with increased mortality and abrogated IFN-γ production. Treatment of WT mice during influenza infection, with either neutralizing antibodies specific for Dll1 or a γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI), which blocks Notch signaling, resulted in increased mortality, impaired viral clearance, and lower IFN-γ production. In addition, Dll1 specifically regulated IFN-γ production from both CD4+and CD8+T cells in vitro. Together, these results suggest that Notch signaling through macrophage-dependent Dll1 is critical in providing an anti-viral response during influenza infection by linking innate and acquired immunity.
PMCID: PMC3207886  PMID: 22072963
7.  The protective role of TLR6 in a mouse model of asthma is mediated by IL-23 and IL-17A 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(11):4420-4432.
TLRs are a family of receptors that mediate immune system pathogen recognition. In the respiratory system, TLR activation has both beneficial and deleterious effects in asthma. For example, clinical data indicate that TLR6 activation exerts protective effects in asthma. Here, we explored the mechanism or mechanisms through which TLR6 mediates this effect using mouse models of Aspergillus fumigatus–induced and house dust mite antigen–induced (HDM antigen–induced) chronic asthma. Tlr6–/– mice with fungal- or HDM antigen–induced asthma exhibited substantially increased airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and remodeling compared with WT asthmatic groups. Surprisingly, whole-lung levels of IL-23 and IL-17 were markedly lower in Tlr6–/– versus WT asthmatic mice. Tlr6–/– DCs generated less IL-23 upon activation with lipopolysaccharide, zymosan, or curdlan. Impaired IL-23 generation in Tlr6–/– mice also corresponded with lower levels of expression of the pathogen-recognition receptor dectin-1 and expansion of Th17 cells both in vivo and in vitro. Exogenous IL-23 treatment of asthmatic Tlr6–/– mice restored IL-17A production and substantially reduced airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and lung fungal burden compared with that in untreated asthmatic Tlr6–/– mice. Together, our data demonstrate that TLR6 activation is critical for IL-23 production and Th17 responses, which both regulate the allergic inflammatory response in chronic fungal-induced asthma. Thus, therapeutics targeting TLR6 activity might prove efficacious in the treatment of clinical asthma.
PMCID: PMC3204826  PMID: 22005301
8.  Cell-Free Antigens from Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Drive IL-4 Production and Increase the Severity of Paracoccidioidomycosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21423.
The thermally dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (Pb) is the causative agent of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), one of the most frequent systemic mycosis that affects the rural population in Latin America. PCM is characterized by a chronic inflammatory granulomatous reaction, which is consequence of a Th1-mediated adaptive immune response. In the present study we investigated the mechanisms involved in the immunoregulation triggered after a prior contact with cell-free antigens (CFA) during a murine model of PCM. The results showed that the inoculation of CFA prior to the infection resulted in disorganized granulomatous lesions and increased fungal replication in the lungs, liver and spleen, that paralleled with the higher levels of IL-4 when compared with the control group. The role of IL-4 in facilitating the fungal growth was demonstrated in IL-4-deficient- and neutralizing anti-IL-4 mAb-treated mice. The injection of CFA did not affect the fungal growth in these mice, which, in fact, exhibited a significant diminished amount of fungus in the tissues and smaller granulomas. Considering that in vivo anti-IL-4-application started one week after the CFA-inoculum, it implicates that IL-4-CFA-induced is responsible by the mediation of the observed unresponsiveness. Further, the characterization of CFA indicated that a proteic fraction is required for triggering the immunosuppressive mechanisms, while glycosylation or glycosphingolipids moieties are not. Taken together, our data suggest that the prior contact with soluble Pb antigens leads to severe PCM in an IL-4 dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3120880  PMID: 21731741
9.  Dysregulated Cytokine Expression by CD4+ T cells from Post-Septic Mice Modulates both Th1 and Th2-Mediated Granulomatous Lung Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20385.
Previous epidemiological studies in humans and experimental studies in animals indicate that survivors of severe sepsis exhibit deficiencies in the activation and effector function of immune cells. In particular, CD4+ T lymphocytes can exhibit reduced proliferative capacity and improper cytokine responses following sepsis. To further investigate the cell-intrinsic defects of CD4+ T cells following sepsis, splenic CD4+ T cells from sham surgery and post-septic mice were transferred into lymphopenic mice. These recipient mice were then subjected to both TH1-(purified protein derivative) and TH2-(Schistosoma mansoni egg antigen) driven models of granulomatous lung inflammation. Post-septic CD4+ T cells mediated smaller TH1 and larger TH2 lung granulomas as compared to mice receiving CD4+ T cells from sham surgery donors. However, cytokine production by lymph node cells in antigen restimulation assays indicated increased pan-specific cytokine expression by post-septic CD4+ T cell recipient mice in both TH1 and TH2 granuloma models. These include increased production of TH2 cytokines in TH1 inflammation, and increased production of TH1 cytokines in TH2 inflammation. These results suggest that cell-intrinsic defects in CD4+ T cell effector function can have deleterious effects on inflammatory processes post-sepsis, due to a defect in the proper regulation of TH-specific cytokine expression.
PMCID: PMC3105020  PMID: 21655295
10.  Impaired CD4+ T cell proliferation and effector function correlates with repressive histone methylation events in a mouse model of severe sepsis 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(4):998-1010.
Immunosuppression following severe sepsis remains a significant human health concern, as long-term morbidity and mortality rates of patients who have recovered from life-threatening septic shock remain poor. Mouse models of severe sepsis indicate this immunosuppression may be partly due to alterations in myeloid cell function; however, the effect of severe sepsis on subsequent CD4+ T cell responses remains unclear. In the present study, CD4+ T cells from mice subjected to an experimental model of severe sepsis (cecal ligation and puncture, CLP) were analyzed in vitro. CD4+ CD62L+ T cells from CLP mice exhibited reduced proliferative capacity and altered gene expression. Additionally, CD4+ CD62L+ T cells from CLP mice exhibit dysregulated cytokine production after in vitro skewing with exogenous cytokines, indicating a decreased capability of these cells to commit to either the TH1 or TH2 lineage. Repressive histone methylation marks were also evident at promoter regions for the TH1 cytokine interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and the TH2 transcription factor GATA-3 in naïve CD4+ T cells from CLP mice. These results provide evidence that CD4+ T cell subsets from postseptic mice exhibit defects in activation and effector function, possibly due to chromatin remodeling proximal to genes involved in cytokine production or gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC3040412  PMID: 20127677
Sepsis; CD4+ T cell; Inflammation; Epigenetics; Mouse
11.  Epigenetic regulation of immune cell functions during post-septic immunosuppression 
Epigenetics  2011;6(3):273-283.
Studies in humans and animal models indicate that profound immunosuppression is one of the chronic consequences of severe sepsis. This immune dysfunction encompasses deficiencies in activation of cells in both the myeloid and lymphoid cell lineages. As a result, survivors of severe sepsis are at risk of succumbing to infections perpetrated by opportunistic pathogens that are normally controlled by a fully functioning immune system. Recent studies have indicated that epigenetic mechanisms may be one driving force behind this immunosuppression, through suppression of proinflammatory gene production and subsequent immune cell activation, proliferation and effector function. A better understanding of epigenetics and post-septic immunosuppression can improve our diagnostic tools and may be an important potential source of novel molecular targets for new therapies. This review will discuss important pathways of immune cell activation affected by severe sepsis, and highlight pathways of epigenetic regulation that may be involved in post-septic immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3092675  PMID: 21048427
sepsis; immunosuppression; histone modification; gene regulation; inflammation; macrophages; dendritic cells; T lymphocytes
12.  Delta-Like 4 Differentially Regulates Murine CD4+ T Cell Expansion via BMI1 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12172.
Studies have shown that Notch is essential for the maintenance of a T cell Th2 phenotype in vivo. It has also been shown that Notch ligands have diverse functions during T cell activation. We chose to investigate the role of Notch ligands during the Th2 response.
Principal Findings
We studied the relationship of two Notch ligands, delta-like 4 and jagged-1, to T cell proliferation in C57 Bl/6 mice. Our findings indicate that jagged-1 does not affect the rate of T cell proliferation in any subset examined. However, delta-like 4 causes an increase in the expansion of Th2 memory cells and a decrease in effector cell proliferation. Our in vivo studies indicate that the Notch system is dynamically regulated, and that blocking one Notch ligand increases the effective concentration of other Notch ligands, thus altering the response. Examination of genes related to the Notch pathway revealed that the Notch receptors were increased in memory T cells. Expression of BMI1, a gene involved in T cell proliferation, was also higher in memory T cells. Further experiments demonstrated that Notch directly regulates the expression of the BMI1 gene in T cells and may govern T cell proliferation through this pathway.
From these experiments we can make several novel conclusions about the role of Notch ligands in T cell biology. The first is that delta-like 4 suppresses effector cell proliferation and enhances Th2 memory cell proliferation. The second is that blocking one Notch ligand in vivo effectively increases the concentration of other Notch ligands, which can then alter the response.
PMCID: PMC2923143  PMID: 20808960
13.  TLR3 is an endogenous sensor of tissue necrosis during acute inflammatory events 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(11):2609-2621.
Ligands from dying cells are a source of Toll-like receptor (TLR) activating agents. Although TLR3 is known to respond to RNA from necrotic cells, the relative importance of this response in vivo during acute inflammatory processes has not been fully explored. We observed the involvement of TLR3 activation during experimental polymicrobial septic peritonitis and ischemic gut injury in the absence of an exogenous viral stimulus. In TLR3-deficient mice, increased chemokine/cytokine levels and neutrophil recruitment characterized the initial inflammatory responses in both injury models. However, the levels of inflammatory chemokines and tumor necrosis factor α quickly returned to baseline in tlr3−/− mice, and these mice were protected from the lethal effects of sustained inflammation. Macrophages from tlr3−/− mice responded normally to other TLR ligands but did not respond to RNA from necrotic neutrophils. Importantly, an immunoneutralizing antibody directed against TLR3 attenuated the generation of inflammatory chemokines evoked by byproducts from necrotic neutrophils cultured with wild-type macrophages. In vivo, anti-TLR3 antibody attenuated the tissue injury associated with gut ischemia and significantly decreased sepsis-induced mortality. Collectively, these data show that TLR3 is a regulator of the amplification of immune response and serves an endogenous sensor of necrosis, independent of viral activation.
PMCID: PMC2571935  PMID: 18838547
14.  Cloning and Characterization of a Gene Encoding an Immunoglobulin-Binding Receptor on the Cell Surface of Some Members of the Family Trypanosomatidae  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(9):5065-5076.
Several members of the Trypanosomatidae family, when freshly isolated from their mammalian hosts, have immunoglobulins adsorbed to their cell surfaces. However, a significant portion of these antibody molecules is not parasite specific, i.e., the immunoglobulins are bound to the parasite's cell surface molecules via noncognitive interactions. It has been proposed that this noncognitive adsorption of immunoglobulins to the parasite is mediated by an Fc-like receptor present in several members of the Trypanosomatidae family. However, the molecular identification of this receptor has never been defined. Here, we describe the cloning of a gene encoding a protein that might represent this molecule. The gene, named Lmsp1, was cloned by screening a Leishmania major cDNA expression library using a rabbit antiserum. Lmsp1 is present in both Leishmania and Trypanosoma and is expressed in all developmental stages of these parasites. The predicted protein has a molecular mass of 16.6 kDa and contains an RGD sequence starting at residue 104 and three cysteine residues at positions 55, 74, and 116. The purified recombinant protein strongly binds to normal immunoglobulins of various animal species (humans, rabbits, sheep, goats, guinea pigs, donkeys, rats, and mice) and the binding to human immunoglobulins appears to be immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM isotype specific. Moreover, Lmsp1 binds to both purified Fc and Fab fragments of IgG from both humans and rabbits. The mapping of the Lmsp1 epitopes that bind human IgG revealed that different sequences of the molecule bind to Fc or Fab. In addition, fluorescence-activated cell sorter analyses with a specific rabbit anti-Lmsp1 antiserum showed that Lmsp1 is associated with the parasite's cell surface. Finally, inhibition experiments point to an active role of this molecule in the immunoglobulin-mediated attachment and penetration of Trypanosoma cruzi in its macrophage host cells, thus suggesting that Lmsp1 is a putative Trypanosomatidae immunoglobulin receptor.
PMCID: PMC187365  PMID: 12933849

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