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1.  Immunity induced by a broad class of inorganic crystalline materials is directly controlled by their chemistry 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2014;211(6):1019-1025.
Immune responses can be predicted by the chemical properties of systematically variable inorganic crystalline materials.
There is currently no paradigm in immunology that enables an accurate prediction of how the immune system will respond to any given agent. Here we show that the immunological responses induced by members of a broad class of inorganic crystalline materials are controlled purely by their physicochemical properties in a highly predictable manner. We show that structurally and chemically homogeneous layered double hydroxides (LDHs) can elicit diverse human dendritic cell responses in vitro. Using a systems vaccinology approach, we find that every measured response can be modeled using a subset of just three physical and chemical properties for all compounds tested. This correlation can be reduced to a simple linear equation that enables the immunological responses stimulated by newly synthesized LDHs to be predicted in advance from these three parameters alone. We also show that mouse antigen–specific antibody responses in vivo and human macrophage responses in vitro are controlled by the same properties, suggesting they may control diverse responses at both individual component and global levels of immunity. This study demonstrates that immunity can be determined purely by chemistry and opens the possibility of rational manipulation of immunity for therapeutic purposes.
PMCID: PMC4042647  PMID: 24799501
2.  Inflammatory dendritic cells—not basophils—are necessary and sufficient for induction of Th2 immunity to inhaled house dust mite allergen 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2010;207(10):2097-2111.
It is unclear how Th2 immunity is induced in response to allergens like house dust mite (HDM). Here, we show that HDM inhalation leads to the TLR4/MyD88-dependent recruitment of IL-4 competent basophils and eosinophils, and of inflammatory DCs to the draining mediastinal nodes. Depletion of basophils only partially reduced Th2 immunity, and depletion of eosinophils had no effect on the Th2 response. Basophils did not take up inhaled antigen, present it to T cells, or express antigen presentation machinery, whereas a population of FceRI+ DCs readily did. Inflammatory DCs were necessary and sufficient for induction of Th2 immunity and features of asthma, whereas basophils were not required. We favor a model whereby DCs initiate and basophils amplify Th2 immunity to HDM allergen.
PMCID: PMC2947072  PMID: 20819925
3.  The lung vascular filter as a site of immune induction for T cell responses to large embolic antigen 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2009;206(12):2823-2835.
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.
PMCID: PMC2806611  PMID: 19858325
4.  Dendritic cells are crucial for maintenance of tertiary lymphoid structures in the lung of influenza virus–infected mice 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2009;206(11):2339-2349.
Tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) are organized aggregates of B and T cells formed in postembryonic life in response to chronic immune responses to infectious agents or self-antigens. Although CD11c+ dendritic cells (DCs) are consistently found in regions of TLO, their contribution to TLO organization has not been studied in detail. We found that CD11chi DCs are essential for the maintenance of inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT), a form of TLO induced in the lungs after influenza virus infection. Elimination of DCs after the virus had been cleared from the lung resulted in iBALT disintegration and reduction in germinal center (GC) reactions, which led to significantly reduced numbers of class-switched plasma cells in the lung and bone marrow and reduction in protective antiviral serum immunoglobulins. Mechanistically, DCs isolated from the lungs of mice with iBALT no longer presented viral antigens to T cells but were a source of lymphotoxin (LT) β and homeostatic chemokines (CXCL-12 and -13 and CCL-19 and -21) known to contribute to TLO organization. Like depletion of DCs, blockade of LTβ receptor signaling after virus clearance led to disintegration of iBALT and GC reactions. Together, our data reveal a previously unappreciated function of lung DCs in iBALT homeostasis and humoral immunity to influenza virus.
PMCID: PMC2768850  PMID: 19808255
5.  Clearance of influenza virus from the lung depends on migratory langerin+CD11b− but not plasmacytoid dendritic cells 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(7):1621-1634.
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.
PMCID: PMC2442640  PMID: 18591406
6.  Alum adjuvant boosts adaptive immunity by inducing uric acid and activating inflammatory dendritic cells 
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.
PMCID: PMC2292225  PMID: 18362170
7.  Activation of the D prostanoid 1 receptor suppresses asthma by modulation of lung dendritic cell function and induction of regulatory T cells 
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.
PMCID: PMC2118726  PMID: 17283205
8.  Inhaled iloprost suppresses the cardinal features of asthma via inhibition of airway dendritic cell function 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(2):464-472.
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.
PMCID: PMC1783814  PMID: 17273558
9.  Local application of FTY720 to the lung abrogates experimental asthma by altering dendritic cell function 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(11):2935-2944.
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.
PMCID: PMC1626118  PMID: 17080194
10.  An unexpected role for the anaphylatoxin C5a receptor in allergic sensitization 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(3):628-632.
The anaphylatoxins complement component 3a and 5a (C3a and C5a, respectively) are classically seen as proinflammatory mediators of allergic asthma that recruit inflammatory cells, induce edema, and cause bronchoconstriction. A few years ago, controversy arose when it was shown that C5-deficient mice were more susceptible to experimental asthma compared with C5-sufficient mice. In a study by Köhl et al. in this issue of the JCI, it is shown in a series of truly “complementary” experiments that C5a receptor (C5aR) blockade promotes Th2 sensitization upon first exposure to inhaled allergen, whereas C5aR blockade during established inflammation suppresses the cardinal features of asthma. Blockade of C5aR alters the function of airway DCs, crucial for inducing and maintaining Th2 responses in the lung. Targeting C5aR as a treatment for established asthma could be beneficial, but might be accompanied by sensitization to novel antigens.
PMCID: PMC1386114  PMID: 16511597
11.  In vivo depletion of lung CD11c+ dendritic cells during allergen challenge abrogates the characteristic features 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.
PMCID: PMC2213109  PMID: 15781587
12.  Essential Role of Lung Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells in Preventing Asthmatic Reactions to Harmless Inhaled Antigen 
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.
PMCID: PMC2213319  PMID: 15238608
asthma; plasmacytoid dendritic cells; tolerance; mucosal immunity; regulatory T cell
13.  Myeloid dendritic cells induce Th2 responses to inhaled antigen, leading to eosinophilic airway inflammation 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;106(4):551-559.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether dendritic cells (DCs) can induce sensitization to aeroallergen in a mouse model of allergic asthma. Ovalbumin-pulsed (OVA-pulsed) or unpulsed myeloid DCs that were injected into the airways of naive mice migrated into the mediastinal lymph nodes. When challenged 2 weeks later with an aerosol of OVA, activated CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes, eosinophils, and neutrophils were recruited to the lungs of actively immunized mice. These CD4+ lymphocytes produced predominantly IL-4 and IL-5 but also IFN-γ, whereas CD8+ lymphocytes produced predominantly IFN-γ. Histological analysis revealed perivascular and peribronchial eosinophilic infiltrates and goblet cell hyperplasia. Studies in IL-4–/– and CD28–/– mice revealed that production of IL-4 by host cells and provision of costimulation to T cells by DCs were critical for inducing the response. Lung CD4+ T cells strongly expressed the Th2 marker T1/ST2, and signaling through this molecule via a ligand expressed on DCs was essential for the establishment of airway eosinophilia. These data demonstrate that DCs in the airways induce sensitization to inhaled antigen and that molecules expressed on the surface of these cells are critical for the development of Th2-dependent airway eosinophilia.
PMCID: PMC380243  PMID: 10953030
14.  Alveolar macrophages develop from fetal monocytes that differentiate into long-lived cells in the first week of life via GM-CSF 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(10):1977-1992.
Alveolar macrophages differentiate from fetal monocytes in a GM-CSF–dependent fashion and colonize the alveolar space within a few days after birth.
Tissue-resident macrophages can develop from circulating adult monocytes or from primitive yolk sac–derived macrophages. The precise ontogeny of alveolar macrophages (AMFs) is unknown. By performing BrdU labeling and parabiosis experiments in adult mice, we found that circulating monocytes contributed minimally to the steady-state AMF pool. Mature AMFs were undetectable before birth and only fully colonized the alveolar space by 3 d after birth. Before birth, F4/80hiCD11blo primitive macrophages and Ly6ChiCD11bhi fetal monocytes sequentially colonized the developing lung around E12.5 and E16.5, respectively. The first signs of AMF differentiation appeared around the saccular stage of lung development (E18.5). Adoptive transfer identified fetal monocytes, and not primitive macrophages, as the main precursors of AMFs. Fetal monocytes transferred to the lung of neonatal mice acquired an AMF phenotype via defined developmental stages over the course of one week, and persisted for at least three months. Early AMF commitment from fetal monocytes was absent in GM-CSF–deficient mice, whereas short-term perinatal intrapulmonary GM-CSF therapy rescued AMF development for weeks, although the resulting AMFs displayed an immature phenotype. This demonstrates that tissue-resident macrophages can also develop from fetal monocytes that adopt a stable phenotype shortly after birth in response to instructive cytokines, and then self-maintain throughout life.
PMCID: PMC3782041  PMID: 24043763
15.  A20-Deficient Mast Cells Exacerbate Inflammatory Responses In Vivo 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001762.
Mast cells, best known as effector cells in pathogenic immunoglobulin-mediated responses, can sense a variety of “danger” signals; if manipulated to enhance their resulting inflammatory responses, they also exacerbate inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lung inflammation.
Mast cells are implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. However, this notion based on studies in mast cell-deficient mice is controversial. We therefore established an in vivo model for hyperactive mast cells by specifically ablating the NF-κB negative feedback regulator A20. While A20 deficiency did not affect mast cell degranulation, it resulted in amplified pro-inflammatory responses downstream of IgE/FcεRI, TLRs, IL-1R, and IL-33R. As a consequence house dust mite- and IL-33-driven lung inflammation, late phase cutaneous anaphylaxis, and collagen-induced arthritis were aggravated, in contrast to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and immediate anaphylaxis. Our results provide in vivo evidence that hyperactive mast cells can exacerbate inflammatory disorders and define diseases that might benefit from therapeutic intervention with mast cell function.
Author Summary
Mast cells mediate allergic and anaphylactic immune reactions. They are also equipped with innate pattern recognition, cytokine, and alarmin receptors, which induce inflammatory responses. Correlative studies in human patients hinted at roles for mast cells in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. However, studies using mast cell-deficient mice have yielded contradictory results in this context. In this study we determined that A20, the negative feedback regulator, restricts inflammation downstream of the mast cell antigen (allergen) receptor module, innate pattern recognition receptors, and the alarmin receptor IL-33R. By mast cell–specific ablation of A20 we established a mouse model for exaggerated inflammatory but normal anaphylactic mast cell signaling. With these mice we evaluated the impact of increased mast cell-mediated inflammation under experimental conditions aimed at mimicking several inflammatory human diseases. Our results demonstrated that the lack of A20 from mast cells exacerbated disease in mouse models for rheumatoid arthritis and innate forms of asthma, but did not impact disease progression in a mouse model for multiple sclerosis. Our data provide direct evidence that enhanced inflammatory mast cell responses can contribute to disease pathology and do so via sensing and amplifying local inflammatory reactions driven by “danger” stimuli and/or tissue damage that leads to the release of alarmins.
PMCID: PMC3891641  PMID: 24453940
16.  Absence of Siglec-H in MCMV Infection Elevates Interferon Alpha Production but Does Not Enhance Viral Clearance 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(9):e1003648.
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) express the I-type lectin receptor Siglec-H and produce interferon α (IFNα), a critical anti-viral cytokine during the acute phase of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. The ligands and biological functions of Siglec-H still remain incompletely defined in vivo. Thus, we generated a novel bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic “pDCre” mouse which expresses Cre recombinase under the control of the Siglec-H promoter. By crossing these mice with a Rosa26 reporter strain, a representative fraction of Siglec-H+ pDCs is terminally labeled with red fluorescent protein (RFP). Interestingly, systemic MCMV infection of these mice causes the downregulation of Siglec-H surface expression. This decline occurs in a TLR9- and MyD88-dependent manner. To elucidate the functional role of Siglec-H during MCMV infection, we utilized a novel Siglec-H deficient mouse strain. In the absence of Siglec-H, the low infection rate of pDCs with MCMV remained unchanged, and pDC activation was still intact. Strikingly, Siglec-H deficiency induced a significant increase in serum IFNα levels following systemic MCMV infection. Although Siglec-H modulates anti-viral IFNα production, the control of viral replication was unchanged in vivo. The novel mouse models will be valuable to shed further light on pDC biology in future studies.
Author Summary
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) represent a minor but functionally important subset of dendritic cells. Siglec-H, a surface receptor expressed on these cells, was shown to modulate IFNα production, which in turn could influence anti-viral functions in vivo. A potential role for Siglec-H as a pathogen uptake receptor has also been postulated. Yet, the precise in vivo function of this molecule in viral replication remained unresolved. In this study, we adopt two novel genetic mouse models to investigate Siglec-H properties and ensuing function in vivo during murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. By using novel reporter mice which harbour permanently labeled Siglec-H+ pDCs, we show that pDCs downregulate Siglec-H upon infection. In an additional experimental system, in which pDCs lack Siglec-H function, we demonstrate that this molecule is not important for the regulation of MCMV pathogenicity. In contrast, in the absence of Siglec-H more IFNα was detectable in the serum. Importantly, this in vivo increase in IFNα production does not influence viral replication. The biological function of Siglec-H downregulation, also in the context of other infections, requires further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3784486  PMID: 24086137
17.  Potential of Immunoglobulin A to Prevent Allergic Asthma 
Allergic asthma is characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness, a defective barrier function, and eosinophilic lower airway inflammation in response to allergens. The inflammation is dominated by Th2 cells and IgE molecules and supplemented with Th17 cells in severe asthma. In contrast, in healthy individuals, allergen-specific IgA and IgG4 molecules are found but no IgE, and their T cells fail to proliferate in response to allergens, probably because of the development of regulatory processes that actively suppress responses to allergens. The presence of allergen-specific secretory IgA has drawn little attention so far, although a few epidemiological studies point at a reverse association between IgA levels and the incidence of allergic airway disease. This review highlights the latest literature on the role of mucosal IgA in protection against allergic airway disease, the mechanisms described to induce secretory IgA, and the role of (mucosal) dendritic cells in this process. Finally, we discuss how this information can be used to translate into the development of new therapies for allergic diseases based on, or supplemented with, IgA boosting strategies.
PMCID: PMC3649226  PMID: 23690823
18.  The Mucosal Adjuvant Cholera Toxin B Instructs Non-Mucosal Dendritic Cells to Promote IgA Production Via Retinoic Acid and TGF-β 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59822.
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.
PMCID: PMC3603891  PMID: 23527272
19.  Interleukin-1α controls allergic sensitization to inhaled house dust mite via the epithelial release of GM-CSF and IL-33 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(8):1505-1517.
IL-1α promotes a cascade of cytokine production from epithelial cells culminating in Th2 immunity to house dust mite allergens.
House dust mite (HDM) is one of the most common allergens worldwide. In this study, we have addressed the involvement of IL-1 in the interaction between HDM and the innate immune response driven by lung epithelial cells (ECs) and dendritic cells (DCs) that leads to asthma. Mice lacking IL-1R on radioresistant cells, but not hematopoietic cells, failed to mount a Th2 immune response and did not develop asthma to HDM. Experiments performed in vivo and in isolated air–liquid interface cultures of bronchial ECs showed that TLR4 signals induced the release of IL-1α, which then acted in an autocrine manner to trigger the release of DC-attracting chemokines, GM-CSF, and IL-33. Consequently, allergic sensitization to HDM was abolished in vivo when IL-1α, GM-CSF, or IL-33 was neutralized. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) became important only when high doses of allergen were administered. These findings put IL-1α upstream in the cytokine cascade leading to epithelial and DC activation in response to inhaled HDM allergen.
PMCID: PMC3409497  PMID: 22802353
20.  Cellular networks controlling Th2 polarization in allergy and immunity 
In contrast to the development of Th1 (type 1 T helper cells), Th17 and Treg (regulatory T cells), little is known of the mechanisms governing Th2 development, which is important for immunity to helminths and for us to understand the pathogenesis of allergy. A picture is emerging in which mucosal epithelial cells instruct dendritic cells to promote Th2 responses in the absence of IL-12 (interleukin 12) production and provide instruction through thymic stromal lymphopoieitin (TSLP) or granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). At the same time, allergens, helminths and chemical adjuvants elicit the response of innate immune cells like basophils, which provide more polarizing cytokines and IL-4 and reinforce Th2 immunity. This unique communication between cells will only be fully appreciated if we study Th2 immunity in vivo and in a tissue-specific context, and can only be fully understood if we compare several models of Th2 immune response induction.
PMCID: PMC3292286  PMID: 22403589
21.  TCR Gene Transfer: MAGE-C2/HLA-A2 and MAGE-A3/HLA-DP4 Epitopes as Melanoma-Specific Immune Targets 
Adoptive therapy with TCR gene-engineered T cells provides an attractive and feasible treatment option for cancer patients. Further development of TCR gene therapy requires the implementation of T-cell target epitopes that prevent “on-target” reactivity towards healthy tissues and at the same time direct a clinically effective response towards tumor tissues. Candidate epitopes that meet these criteria are MAGE-C2336-344/HLA-A2 (MC2/A2) and MAGE-A3243-258/HLA-DP4 (MA3/DP4). We molecularly characterized TCRαβ genes of an MC2/A2-specific CD8 and MA3/DP4-specific CD4 T-cell clone derived from melanoma patients who responded clinically to MAGE vaccination. We identified MC2/A2 and MA3/DP4-specific TCR-Vα3/Vβ28 and TCR-Vα38/Vβ2 chains and validated these TCRs in vitro upon gene transfer into primary human T cells. The MC2 and MA3 TCR were surface-expressed and mediated CD8 T-cell functions towards melanoma cell lines and CD4 T-cell functions towards dendritic cells, respectively. We intend to start testing these MAGE-specific TCRs in phase I clinical trial.
PMCID: PMC3287115  PMID: 22400038
22.  Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus H5N1 Infects Alveolar Macrophages without Virus Production or Excessive TNF-Alpha Induction 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(6):e1002099.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3121882  PMID: 21731493
23.  Both Conventional and Interferon Killer Dendritic Cells Have Antigen-Presenting Capacity during Influenza Virus Infection 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7187.
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.
PMCID: PMC2747012  PMID: 19784375
24.  Effect of Cigarette Smoke Extract on Dendritic Cells and Their Impact on T-Cell Proliferation 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4946.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic airway inflammation. Cigarette smoke has been considered a major player in the pathogenesis of COPD. The inflamed airways of COPD patients contain several inflammatory cells including neutrophils, macrophages,T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells (DCs). The relative contributions of these various inflammatory cells to airway injury and remodeling are not well documented. In particular, the potential role of DCs as mediators of inflammation in the smoker's airways and COPD patients is poorly understood. In the current study we analyzed the effects of cigarette smoke extract on mouse bone marrow derived DC and the production of chemokines and cytokines were studied. In addition, we assessed CSE-induced changes in cDC function in the mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) examining CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation. Cigarette smoke extract induces the release of the chemokines CCL3 and CXCL2 (but not cytokines), via the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In a mixed-leukocyte reaction assay, cigarette smoke-primed DCs potentiate CD8+T cell proliferation via CCL3. In contrast, proliferation of CD4+T cells is suppressed via an unknown mechanism. The cigarette smoke-induced release of CCL3 and CXCL2 by DCs may contribute to the influx of CD8+T cells and neutrophils into the airways, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2655711  PMID: 19293939
25.  Sustained desensitization to bacterial Toll-like receptor ligands after resolutionof respiratory influenza infection 
The World Health Organization estimates that lower respiratory tract infections (excluding tuberculosis) account for ∼35% of all deaths caused by infectious diseases. In many cases, the cause of death may be caused by multiple pathogens, e.g., the life-threatening bacterial pneumonia observed in patients infected with influenza virus. The ability to evolve more efficient immunity on each successive encounter with antigen is the hallmark of the adaptive immune response. However, in the absence of cross-reactive T and B cell epitopes, one lung infection can modify immunity and pathology to the next for extended periods of time. We now report for the first time that this phenomenon is mediated by a sustained desensitization of lung sentinel cells to Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands; this is an effect that lasts for several months after resolution of influenza or respiratory syncytial virus infection and is associated with reduced chemokine production and NF-κB activation in alveolar macrophages. Although such desensitization may be beneficial in alleviating overall immunopathology, the reduced neutrophil recruitment correlates with heightened bacterial load during secondary respiratory infection. Our data therefore suggests that post-viral desensitization to TLR signals may be one possible contributor to the common secondary bacterial pneumonia associated with pandemic and seasonal influenza infection.
PMCID: PMC2271005  PMID: 18227219

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