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1.  Depigmented-polymerised allergoids favour regulatory over effector T cells: enhancement by 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 
BMC Immunology  2014;15:21.
Allergen immunotherapy (SIT) is the only treatment for allergic disease capable of modifying disease long term. To reduce the risk of anaphylaxis from SIT, allergen-extracts have been modified by polymerisation with glutaraldehyde to reduce IgE binding. It is suggested that these allergoid extracts also have reduced T cell activity, which could compromise clinical efficacy. Effective SIT is thought to act through regulatory T cells (Tregs) rather than activation of effector T cells. There is no published data on the activity of modified extracts on Tregs.
We compared the capacity of modified (depigmented-polymerised) versus unmodified (native) allergen extracts of grass pollen and house dust mite to stimulate proliferation/cytokine production and to modulate Treg/effector T cell frequency in cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), from volunteers sensitised to both allergens in vitro. Depigmented-polymerised allergen extracts stimulated less proliferation of PBMC, and reduced effector cell numbers after 7 days in culture than did native extracts. However, the frequency of Foxp3+ Tregs in cultures were similar to those seen with native extract so that ratios of regulatory to effector T cells were significantly increased in cultures stimulated with depigmented-polymerised extracts. Addition of 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 further favoured Treg, and reduced effector cytokine production, but not interleukin-10.
Depigmented-polymerised allergen extracts appear to favour Treg expansion over activation of effector T cells and this may relate to their demonstrated efficacy and safety in SIT. 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 further reduces effector T cell activation by allergen extracts and may be a useful adjuvant for SIT.
PMCID: PMC4051145  PMID: 24884430
Allergen extract; Depigmented-polymerised; Immunotherapy; Regulatory T cell; Vitamin D
3.  Relationship between Serum Vitamin D, Disease Severity, and Airway Remodeling in Children with Asthma 
Little is known about vitamin D status and its effect on asthma pathophysiology in children with severe, therapy-resistant asthma (STRA).
Relationships between serum vitamin D, lung function, and pathology were investigated in pediatric STRA.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D3] was measured in 86 children (mean age, 11.7 yr): 36 with STRA, 26 with moderate asthma (MA), and 24 without asthma (control subjects). Relationships between 25(OH)D3, the asthma control test (ACT), spirometry, corticosteroid use, and exacerbations were assessed. Twenty-two of 36 children with STRA underwent fiberoptic bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage, and endobronchial biopsy with assessment of airway inflammation and remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
25(OH)D3 levels (median [IQR]) were significantly lower in STRA (28 [22–38] nmol/L) than in MA (42.5 [29–63] nmol/L) and control subjects (56.5 [45–67] nmol/L) (P < 0.001). There was a positive relationship between 25(OH)D3 levels and percent predicted FEV1 (r = 0.4, P < 0.001) and FVC (r = 0.3, P = 0.002) in all subjects. 25(OH)D3 levels were positively associated with ACT (r = 0.6, P < 0.001), and inversely associated with exacerbations (r=−0.6, P < 0.001) and inhaled steroid dose (r=−0.39, P = 0.001) in MA and and STRA. Airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass, but not epithelial shedding or reticular basement membrane thickness, was inversely related to 25(OH)D3 levels (r=−0.6, P = 0.008). There was a positive correlation between ASM mass and bronchodilator reversibility (r = 0.6, P = 0.009) and an inverse correlation between ASM mass and ACT (r = −0.7, P < 0.001).
Lower vitamin D levels in children with STRA were associated with increased ASM mass and worse asthma control and lung function. The link between vitamin D, airway structure, and function suggests vitamin D supplementation may be useful in pediatric STRA.
PMCID: PMC3471128  PMID: 21908411
vitamin D; asthma; remodeling; airway smooth muscle; pediatrics
4.  1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 promotes CD200 expression by human peripheral and airway-resident T cells 
Thorax  2012;67(7):574-581.
CD200, a cell-surface immunoglobulin-like molecule expressed by immune and stromal cells, dampens the pro-inflammatory activity of tissue-resident innate cells via its receptor, CD200R. This interaction appears critical for peripheral immune tolerance, particularly in the airways where excessive inflammation is undesirable. Vitamin D contributes to pulmonary health and promotes regulatory immune pathways, therefore its influence on CD200 and CD200R was investigated.
CD200 and CD200R expression were assessed by qPCR and immunoreactivity of human lymphoid, myeloid and epithelial cells following 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25VitD3) exposure in vitro and in peripheral T cells following 1α,25VitD3 oral ingestion in vivo. The effect of 1α25VitD3 was also assessed in human airway-resident cells.
1α25VitD3 potently upregulated CD200 on peripheral human CD4+ T cells in vitro, and in vivo there was a trend towards upregulation in healthy, but not asthmatic individuals. CD200R expression was not modulated in any cells studied. CD200 induction was observed to a lesser extent in CD8+ T cells and not in B cells or airway epithelium. T cells isolated from the human airway also responded strongly to 1α25VitD3 to upregulate CD200.
The capacity of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 to induce CD200 expression by peripheral and respiratory tract T cells identifies an additional pathway via which vitamin D can restrain inflammation in the airways to maintain respiratory health.
PMCID: PMC3471129  PMID: 22334534
5.  The role of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and cytokines in the promotion of distinct Foxp3+ and IL-10+ CD4+ T cells 
European journal of immunology  2012;42(10):2697-2708.
1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α25VitD3) has potent immunomodulatory properties. We have previously demonstrated that 1α25VitD3 promotes human and murine IL-10-secreting CD4+ T cells. Because of the clinical relevance of this observation, we characterized these cells further and investigated their relationship with Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells. 1α25VitD3 increased the frequency of both Foxp3+ and IL-10+ CD4+T cells in vitro. However, Foxp3 was increased at high concentrations of 1α25VitD3 and IL-10 at more moderate levels, with little coexpression of these molecules. The Foxp3+ and IL-10+ T-cell populations showed comparable suppressive activity. We demonstrate that the enhancement of Foxp3 expression by 1α25VitD3 is impaired by IL-10. 1α25VitD3 enables the selective expansion of Foxp3+ Treg cells over their Foxp3− T-cell counterparts. Equally, 1α25VitD3 maintains Foxp3+ expression by sorted populations of human and murine Treg cells upon in vitro culture. A positive in vivo correlation between vitamin D status and CD4+Foxp3+ T cells in the airways was observed in a severe pediatric asthma cohort, supporting the in vitro observations. In summary, we provide evidence that 1α25VitD3 enhances the frequency of both IL-10+ and Foxp3+ Treg cells. In a translational setting, these data suggest that 1α25VitD3, over a broad concentration range, will be effective in enhancing the frequency of Treg cells.
PMCID: PMC3471131  PMID: 22903229
1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3; Asthma; Immune regulation; Regulatory T cells
6.  Regulatory T Cells in Asthma 
Immunity  2009;31(3):438-449.
Asthma is characterized by T helper cell 2 (Th2) type inflammation, leading to airway hyperresponsiveness and tissue remodeling. Th2 cell-driven inflammation is likely to represent an abnormal response to harmless airborne particles. These reactions are normally suppressed by regulatory T cells, which maintain airway tolerance. The anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 is likely to play a central role. The role of the cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) is more complex, with evidence for immune suppression and remodeling in the airways. In asthmatic individuals there is a breakdown in these regulatory mechanisms. There is emerging evidence that early life events, including exposure to allergen and infections, are critical in programming effective regulatory pathways to maintain pulmonary homeostasis. In this review we examine the clinical and experimental evidence for T regulatory cell function in the lung and discuss the events that might influence the functioning of these cells. Ultimately, the ability to enhance regulatory function in affected individuals may represent an effective treatment for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3385348  PMID: 19766086
7.  Comprehensive genetic assessment of a functional TLR9 promoter polymorphism: no replicable association with asthma or asthma-related phenotypes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:26.
Prior studies suggest a role for a variant (rs5743836) in the promoter of toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) in asthma and other inflammatory diseases. We performed detailed genetic association studies of the functional variant rs5743836 with asthma susceptibility and asthma-related phenotypes in three independent cohorts.
rs5743836 was genotyped in two family-based cohorts of children with asthma and a case-control study of adult asthmatics. Association analyses were performed using chi square, family-based and population-based testing. A luciferase assay was performed to investigate whether rs5743836 genotype influences TLR9 promoter activity.
Contrary to prior reports, rs5743836 was not associated with asthma in any of the three cohorts. Marginally significant associations were found with FEV1 and FVC (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008, respectively) in one of the family-based cohorts, but these associations were not significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. Higher promoter activity of the CC genotype was demonstrated by luciferase assay, confirming the functional importance of this variant.
Although rs5743836 confers regulatory effects on TLR9 transcription, this variant does not appear to be an important asthma-susceptibility locus.
PMCID: PMC3048492  PMID: 21324137
8.  Vitamin D, the immune system and asthma 
The effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and calcium homeostasis have long been recognized. Emerging evidence has implicated vitamin D as a critical regulator of immunity, playing a role in both the innate and cell-mediated immune systems. Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be associated with several immune-mediated diseases, susceptibility to infection and cancer. Recently, there has been increasing interest in the possible link between vitamin D and asthma. Further elucidation of the role of vitamin D in lung development and immune system function may hold profound implications for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2812815  PMID: 20161622
asthma; autoimmune disease; immune system regulation; T-regulatory cell; vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency
9.  Ligation of TLR9 induced on human IL-10–secreting Tregs by 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 abrogates regulatory function 
Signaling through the TLR family of molecular pattern recognition receptors has been implicated in the induction of innate and adaptive immune responses. A role for TLR signaling in the maintenance and/or regulation of Treg function has been proposed, however its functional relevance remains unclear. Here we have shown that TLR9 is highly expressed by human Treg secreting the antiinflammatory cytokine IL-10 induced following stimulation of blood and tissue CD3+ T cells in the presence of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α25VitD3), the active form of Vitamin D, with or without the glucocorticoid dexamethasone. By contrast, TLR9 was not highly expressed by naturally occurring CD4+CD25+ Treg or by Th1 and Th2 effector cells. Induction of TLR9, but not other TLRs, was IL-10 dependent and primarily regulated by 1α25VitD3 in vitro. Furthermore, ingestion of calcitriol (1α25VitD3) by human volunteers led to an increase of both IL-10 and TLR9 expression by CD3+CD4+ T cells analyzed directly ex vivo. Stimulation of 1α25VitD3-induced IL-10–secreting Treg with TLR9 agonists, CpG oligonucleotides, resulted in decreased IL-10 and IFN-γ synthesis and a concurrent loss of regulatory function, but, unexpectedly, increased IL-4 synthesis. We therefore suggest that TLR9 could be used to monitor and potentially modulate the function of 1α25VitD3-induced IL-10–secreting Treg in vivo, and that this has implications in cancer therapy and vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC2631286  PMID: 19139565
10.  Immunological intervention in human diseases 
A recent Keystone Symposium Meeting on "Immunological Intervention in Human Disease" was held in Big Sky, Montana on January, 6–11, 2007, organized by Jacques Banchereau, Federica Sallusto and Robert Coffman. It brought together basic scientists and clinicians from both academia and the pharmaceutical industry to discuss how the immune system is involved in the development of human diseases, including cancer, allergy, autoimmunity, and infectious diseases. We highlight advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases and future approaches in the immune therapeutic interventions. Considerable progress in the development of model systems and methodologies to monitor human immune responses will help to develop and to evaluate new immune-based therapies at pre-clinical and clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC2176053  PMID: 18036229
11.  Regulatory T cells and IL-10 in allergic inflammation 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;202(11):1459-1463.
Recent studies suggest that human regulatory T (T reg) cells protect against the development of allergic and asthmatic disease and that their function is impaired during active disease. Two new studies contribute to our understanding of the role that T reg cells play in the control of allergic airway disease in mice. However, these studies also highlight several outstanding questions in the field.
PMCID: PMC2213335  PMID: 16330811
12.  Reversing the defective induction of IL-10–secreting regulatory T cells in glucocorticoid-resistant asthma patients 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;116(1):146-155.
We previously reported that human CD4+ Tregs secrete high levels of IL-10 when stimulated in the presence of dexamethasone and calcitriol (vitamin D3). We now show that following stimulation by allergen, IL-10–secreting Tregs inhibit cytokine secretion by allergen-specific Th2 cells in an IL-10–dependent manner. A proportion of patients with severe asthma fail to demonstrate clinical improvement upon glucocorticoid therapy, and their asthma is characterized as glucocorticoid resistant (SR, abbreviation derived from “steroid resistant”). Dexamethasone does not enhance secretion of IL-10 by their CD4+ T cells. Addition of vitamin D3 with dexamethasone to cultures of SR CD4+ T cells enhanced IL-10 synthesis to levels observed in cells from glucocorticoid-sensitive patients cultured with dexamethasone alone. Furthermore, pretreatment with IL-10 fully restored IL-10 synthesis in these cells in response to dexamethasone. Vitamin D3 significantly overcame the inhibition of glucocorticoid-receptor expression by dexamethasone while IL-10 upregulated glucocorticoid-receptor expression by CD4+ T cells, suggesting potential mechanisms whereby these treatments may overcome poor glucocorticoid responsiveness. We show here that administration of vitamin D3 to healthy individuals and SR asthmatic patients enhanced subsequent responsiveness to dexamethasone for induction of IL-10. This strongly suggests that vitamin D3 could potentially increase the therapeutic response to glucocorticoids in SR patients.
PMCID: PMC1307558  PMID: 16341266
13.  In Vitro Generation of Interleukin 10–producing Regulatory CD4+ T Cells Is Induced by Immunosuppressive Drugs and Inhibited by T Helper Type 1 (Th1)– and Th2-inducing Cytokines 
We show that a combination of the immunosuppressive drugs, vitamin D3 and Dexamethasone, induced human and mouse naive CD4+ T cells to differentiate in vitro into regulatory T cells. In contrast to the previously described in vitro derived CD4+ T cells, these cells produced only interleukin (IL)-10, but no IL-5 and interferon (IFN)-γ, and furthermore retained strong proliferative capacity. The development of these IL-10–producing cells was enhanced by neutralization of the T helper type 1 (Th1)- and Th2–inducing cytokines IL-4, IL-12, and IFN-γ. These immunosuppressive drugs also induced the development of IL-10–producing T cells in the absence of antigen-presenting cells, with IL-10 acting as a positive autocrine factor for these T cells. Furthermore, nuclear factor (NF)-κB and activator protein (AP)-1 activities were inhibited in the IL-10–producing cells described here as well as key transcription factors involved in Th1 and Th2 subset differentiation. The regulatory function of these in vitro generated IL-10–producing T cells was demonstrated by their ability to prevent central nervous system inflammation, when targeted to the site of inflammation, and this function was shown to be IL-10 dependent. Generating homogeneous populations of IL-10–producing T cells in vitro will thus facilitate the use of regulatory T cells in immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2193760  PMID: 11877483
experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; vitamin D3; Dexamethasone; T regulatory lymphocyte; autoimmunity

Results 1-13 (13)