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1.  A novel anti-mycobacterial function of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:64.
Background
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. To combat against this pathogen, immune cells release cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), which is pivotal in the development of protective granulomas. Our previous results showed that Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), a mycobacterium used as a model to investigate the immune response against MTB, stimulates the induction of TNF-α via mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in human blood monocytes. Since MAPK phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) is known to regulate MAPK activities, we examined whether MKP-1 plays a role in BCG-induced MAPK activation and cytokine expression.
Results
Primary human blood monocytes were treated with BCG and assayed for MKP-1 expression. Our results demonstrated that following exposure to BCG, there was an increase in the expression of MKP-1. Additionally, the induction of MKP-1 was regulated by p38 MAPK and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). Surprisingly, when MKP-1 expression was blocked by its specific siRNA, there was a significant decrease in the levels of phospho-MAPK (p38 MAPK and ERK1/2) and TNF-α inducible by BCG.
Conclusions
Since TNF-α is pivotal in granuloma formation, the results indicated an unexpected positive function of MKP-1 against mycobacterial infection as opposed to its usual phosphatase activity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-64
PMCID: PMC2804704  PMID: 20017901
2.  Variable expression of cysteinyl leukotriene type I receptor splice variants in asthmatic females with different promoter haplotypes 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:63.
Background
Cysteinyl leukotrienes are potent inflammatory mediators implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma. Human cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 1 (CYSLTR1) gene contains five exons that are variably spliced. Within its promoter few polymorphisms were described. To date, there has been no evidence about the expression of different splice variants of CysLT1 in asthma and their association with CYSLTR1 promoter polymorphisms.
The goal of our study was to investigate CysLT1 alternative transcripts expression in asthmatic patients with different CYSLTR1 promoter haplotypes.
The study groups consisted of 44 patients with asthma, diagnosed according to GINA 2008 criteria and 18 healthy subjects. Genomic DNA and total RNA was extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Real-time PCR was performed with specific primers for transcript I [GenBank:DQ131799] and II [GenBank:DQ131800]. Fragments of the CYSLTR1 promoter were amplified by PCR and sequenced directly to identify four single nucleotide polymorphisms: C/T [SNP:rs321029], A/C [SNP:rs2637204], A/G [SNP:rs2806489] and C/T [SNP:rs7066737].
Results
The expression of CysLT1 transcript I and II in asthma did not differ from its expression in healthy control group. However, in major alleles homozygotic CAAC/CAAC women with asthma we found significantly higher expression of transcript I as compared to heterozygous CAAC/TCGC women in that loci. CysLT1 transcript I expression tended to negative correlation with episodes of acute respiratory infection in our asthmatic population. Moreover, expression of CysLT1 transcript II in CAAC/CAAC homozygotic women with asthma was significantly lower than in CAAC/CAAC healthy control females.
Conclusions
Genetic variants of CYSLTR1 promoter might be associated with gender specific expression of CysLT1 alternative transcripts in patients with asthma. CysLT1 splice variants expression might also correlate with the susceptibility to infection in asthmatic population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-63
PMCID: PMC2805608  PMID: 20003473
3.  Divergent effects of norepinephrine, dopamine and substance P on the activation, differentiation and effector functions of human cytotoxic T lymphocytes 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:62.
Background
Neurotransmitters are important regulators of the immune system, with very distinct and varying effects on different leukocyte subsets. So far little is known about the impact of signals mediated by neurotransmitters on the function of CD8+ T lymphocytes. Therefore, we investigated the influence of norepinephrine, dopamine and substance P on the key tasks of CD8+ T lymphocytes: activation, migration, extravasation and cytotoxicity.
Results
The activation of naïve CD8+ T lymphocytes by CD3/CD28 cross-linking was inhibited by norepinephrine and dopamine, which was caused by a downregulation of interleukin (IL)-2 expression via Erk1/2 and NF-κB inhibition. Furthermore, all of the investigated neurotransmitters increased the spontaneous migratory activity of naïve CD8+ T lymphocytes with dopamine being the strongest inducer. In contrast, activated CD8+ T lymphocytes showed a reduced migratory activity in the presence of norepinephrine and substance P. With regard to extravasation we found norepinephrine to induce adhesion of activated CD8+ T cells: norepinephrine increased the interleukin-8 release from endothelium, which in turn had effect on the activated CXCR1+ CD8+ T cells. At last, release of cytotoxic granules from activated cells in response to CD3 cross-linking was not influenced by any of the investigated neurotransmitters, as we have analyzed by measuring the β-hexosamidase release.
Conclusion
Neurotransmitters are specific modulators of CD8+ T lymphocytes not by inducing any new functions, but by fine-tuning their key tasks. The effect can be either stimulatory or suppressive depending on the activation status of the cells.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-62
PMCID: PMC2794263  PMID: 19968887
4.  Identification of a novel conserved HLA-A*0201-restricted epitope from the spike protein of SARS-CoV 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:61.
Background
The spike (S) protein is a major structural glycoprotein of coronavirus (CoV), the causal agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The S protein is a potent target for SARS-specific cell-mediated immune responses. However, the mechanism CoV pathogenesis in SARS and the role of special CTLs in virus clearance are still largely uncharacterized. Here, we describe a study that leads to the identification of a novel HLA-A*0201-restricted epitope from conserved regions of S protein.
Results
First, different SARS-CoV sequences were analyzed to predict eight candidate peptides from conserved regions of the S protein based upon HLA-A*0201 binding and proteosomal cleavage. Four of eight candidate peptides were tested by HLA-A*0201 binding assays. Among the four candidate peptides, Sp8 (S958-966, VLNDILSRL) induced specific CTLs both ex vivo in PBLs of healthy HLA-A2+ donors and in HLA-A2.1/Kb transgenic mice immunized with a plasmid encoding full-length S protein. The immunized mice released IFN-γ and lysed target cells upon stimulation with Sp8 peptide-pulsed autologous dendritic cells in comparison to other candidates.
Conclusion
These results suggest that Sp8 is a naturally processed epitope. We propose that Sp8 epitope should help in the characterization of mechanisms of virus control and immunopathology in SARS-CoV infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-61
PMCID: PMC2792222  PMID: 19958537
5.  Plasmodium chabaudi limits early Nippostrongylus brasiliensis-induced pulmonary immune activation and Th2 polarization in co-infected mice 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:60.
Background
Larvae of several common species of parasitic nematodes obligately migrate through, and often damage, host lungs. The larvae induce strong pulmonary Type 2 immune responses, including T-helper (Th)2 cells as well as alternatively activated macrophages (AAMφ) and associated chitinase and Fizz/resistin family members (ChaFFs), which are thought to promote tissue repair processes. Given the prevalence of systemic or lung-resident Type 1-inducing pathogens in geographical areas in which nematodes are endemic, we wished to investigate the impact of concurrent Type 1 responses on the development of these Type 2 responses to nematode larval migration. We therefore infected BALB/c mice with the nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, in the presence or absence of Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi malaria parasites. Co-infected animals received both infections on the same day, and disease was assessed daily before immunological measurements were taken at 3, 5, 7 or 20 days post-infection.
Results
We observed that the nematodes themselves caused transient loss of body mass and red blood cell density, but co-infection then slightly ameliorated the severity of malarial anaemia. We also tracked the development of immune responses in the lung and thoracic lymph node. By the time of onset of the adaptive immune response around 7 days post-infection, malaria co-infection had reduced pulmonary expression of ChaFFs. Assessment of the T cell response demonstrated that the Th2 response to the nematode was also significantly impaired by malaria co-infection.
Conclusion
P. c. chabaudi co-infection altered both local and lymph node Type 2 immune activation due to migration of N. brasiliensis larvae. Given recent work from other laboratories showing that N. brasiliensis-induced ChaFFs correlate to the extent of long-term lung damage, our results raise the possibility that co-infection with malaria might alter pulmonary repair processes following nematode migration. Further experimentation in the co-infection model developed here will reveal the longer-term consequences of the presence of both malaria and helminths in the lung.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-60
PMCID: PMC3224723  PMID: 19951425
6.  Induction of granzyme B expression in T-cell receptor/CD28-stimulated human regulatory T cells is suppressed by inhibitors of the PI3K-mTOR pathway 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:59.
Background
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) can employ a cell contact- and granzyme B-dependent mechanism to mediate suppression of bystander T and B cells. Murine studies indicate that granzyme B is involved in the Treg-mediated suppression of anti-tumor immunity in the tumor microenvironment and in the Treg-mediated maintenance of allograft survival. In spite of its central importance, a detailed study of granzyme B expression patterns in human Tregs has not been performed.
Results
Our data demonstrated that natural Tregs freshly isolated from the peripheral blood of normal adults lacked granzyme B expression. Tregs subjected to prolonged TCR and CD28 triggering, in the presence of IL-2, expressed high levels of granzyme B but CD3 stimulation alone or IL-2 treatment alone failed to induce granzyme B. Treatment of Tregs with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, rapamycin or the PI3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 markedly suppressed granzyme B expression. However, neither rapamycin, as previously reported by others, nor LY294002 inhibited Treg proliferation or induced significant cell death in TCR/CD28/IL-2 stimulated cells. The proliferation rate of Tregs was markedly higher than that of CD4+ conventional T cells in the setting of rapamycin treatment. Tregs expanded by CD3/CD28/IL-2 stimulation without rapamycin demonstrated increased in vitro cytotoxic activity compared to Tregs expanded in the presence of rapamycin in both short term (6 hours) and long term (48 hours) cytotoxicity assays.
Conclusion
TCR/CD28 mediated activation of the PI3K-mTOR pathway is important for granyzme B expression but not proliferation in regulatory T cells. These findings may indicate that suppressive mechanisms other than granzyme B are utilized by rapamycin-expanded Tregs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-59
PMCID: PMC2784757  PMID: 19930596
7.  Derivation and validation of murine histologic alterations resembling asthma, with two proposed histologic grade parameters 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:58.
Background
The objective was to define murine histologic alterations resembling asthma in a BALB/c OVA model and to suggest grading criteria. Identified were six salient histologic findings in lungs with putative allergic inflammation: 1) bronchoarterial space inflammation; 2) peri-venular inflammation; 3) inflammation about amuscular blood vessels; 4) inter-alveolar space inflammation, not about capillaries; 5) pleural inflammation; and 6) eosinophils within the inflammatory aggregates. An initial study comprised six groups of twelve mice each: 1) stressed, control; 2) stressed, sensitized; 3) stressed, challenged; 4) not physically stressed, control; 5) not physically stressed, sensitized; 6) not physically stressed, challenged. A second study comprised four experimental groups of twenty mice each: 1) stressed, control; 2) stressed, challenged; 3) not physically stressed, control; 4) not physically stressed, challenged. A third study evaluated two grading criteria, 1) the proportion of non-tracheal respiratory passages with inflammatory aggregates and 2) mitoses in the largest two non-tracheal respiratory passages, in five groups of five mice each, evaluated at different times after the last exposure.
Results
The first study suggested the six histological findings might reliably indicate the presence of alterations resembling asthma: whereas 82.4% of mice with a complete response had detectable interleukin (IL)-5, only 3.8% of mice without one did; whereas 77.8% of mice with a complete response were challenged mice, only 6.7% of mice without complete responses were. The second study revealed that the six histological findings provided a definition that was 97.4% sensitive and 100% specific. The third study found that the odds of a bronchial passage's having inflammation declined 1) when mitoses were present (OR = 0.73, 0.60 - 0.90), and 2) with one day increased time (OR = 0.75, 0.65 - 0.86).
Conclusion
A definition of murine histologic alterations resembling asthma in the BALB/c OVA mouse was developed and validated. The definition will be of use in experiments involving this model to ensure that all mice said to have undergone an asthmatic attack did indeed reveal allergic pulmonary inflammation. Proposed grading criteria should be further evaluated with additional studies using physiologic measures of attack severity and increased airway resistance.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-58
PMCID: PMC2777149  PMID: 19878549
8.  Selenoproteins regulate macrophage invasiveness and extracellular matrix-related gene expression 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:57.
Background
Selenium, a micronutrient whose deficiency in diet causes immune dysfunction and inflammatory disorders, is thought to exert its physiological effects mostly in the form of selenium-containing proteins (selenoproteins). Incorporation of selenium into the amino acid selenocysteine (Sec), and subsequently into selenoproteins is mediated by Sec tRNA[Ser]Sec.
Results
To define macrophage-specific selenoprotein functions, we generated mice with the Sec tRNA[Ser]Sec gene specifically deleted in myeloid cells. These mutant mice were devoid of the "selenoproteome" in macrophages, yet exhibited largely normal inflammatory responses. However, selenoprotein deficiency led to aberrant expression of extracellular matrix-related genes, and diminished migration of macrophages in a protein gel matrix.
Conclusion
Selenium status may affect immune defense and tissue homeostasis through its effect on selenoprotein expression and the trafficking of tissue macrophages.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-57
PMCID: PMC2774298  PMID: 19863805
9.  The inhibitory receptor LILRB4 (ILT3) modulates antigen presenting cell phenotype and, along with LILRB2 (ILT4), is upregulated in response to Salmonella infection 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:56.
Background
Leukocyte Ig-like receptors (LILR) are a family of innate immune receptors with immunomodulatory functions. High-level expression of the receptors LILRB2 (ILT4) and LILRB4 (ILT3) is a feature of tolerogenic antigen presenting cells and has been observed in cancer and transplant situations. There are relatively few studies regarding these receptors in the context of infection and it is not yet clear how LILRB4 exerts its inhibitory effects.
Results
We studied the effects of LILRB4 ligation on antigen presenting cell phenotype, and the expression of LILRB2 and LILRB4 on Salmonella-infected antigen presenting cells. Ligation of LILRB4 throughout in vitro culture of dendritic cells led to an upregulation of the co-stimulatory protein CD86. Alterations in the production of IL-8 and IL-10 by LILRB4-ligated macrophages were also observed. Infection with Salmonella typhimurium or TLR stimulation with Salmonella components led to an upregulation of LILRB2 and LILRB4.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that the inhibitory effects of LILRB4 do not result from a failure to upregulate co-stimulatory proteins. In addition to the high level expression that can render antigen presenting cells tolerogenic, there may be a role for lower level expression and activity of LILRB2 and LILRB4 in response to TLR signalling during an immune response to bacterial infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-56
PMCID: PMC2773765  PMID: 19860908
10.  Selenium deficiency impairs host innate immune response and induces susceptibility to Listeria monocytogenes infection 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:55.
Background
Susceptibility or resistance to infection with Listeria monocytogenes correlates with Selenium (Se) deficiency in response to infection.
Results
Se-deficient mouse models of listeriosis were used to study the innate immune response during the course of L. monocytogenes infection. Blood samples from mouse models were used for Se status. The concentration of MDA, SOD, GPx and CAT in blood has revealed that lower Se level exist in Se-deficient mice. Intestine, mesenteric lymph node, liver, spleen and brain from each mouse were to study the bacterial burden in organs. The analysis of cell types of spleen from Se-deficient mice revealed that the ability of the host to elicit a rapid recruitment and activation of systemic innate immune response to infection was to a certain extent compromised under conditions of Se deficiency. The cytokine levels in the serum and cytokine expression levels in the livers from Se-deficient mice revealed that the innate immune response of Se-deficient mice was impaired throughout the course of infection. These results suggest that innate immune response is altered by Se deficiency after infection with L. monocytogenes.
Conclusion
In conclusion, induced susceptibility of host resistance is associated with an impaired innate immune response following infection with L. monocytogenes in C57BL/6 Se-deficient mice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-55
PMCID: PMC2774297  PMID: 19852827
11.  Modulation of pathogen-induced CCL20 secretion from HT-29 human intestinal epithelial cells by commensal bacteria 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:54.
Background
Human intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) secrete the chemokine CCL20 in response to infection by various enteropathogenic bacteria or exposure to bacterial flagellin. CCL20 recruits immature dendritic cells and lymphocytes to target sites. Here we investigated IEC responses to various pathogenic and commensal bacteria as well as the modulatory effects of commensal bacteria on pathogen-induced CCL20 secretion. HT-29 human IECs were incubated with commensal bacteria (Bifidobacterium infantis or Lactobacillus salivarius), or with Salmonella typhimurium, its flagellin, Clostridium difficile, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, or Mycobacterium smegmatis for varying times. In some studies, HT-29 cells were pre-treated with a commensal strain for 2 hr prior to infection or flagellin stimulation. CCL20 and interleukin (IL)-8 secretion and nuclear factor (NF)-κB activation were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.
Results
Compared to untreated cells, S. typhimurium, C. difficile, M. paratuberculosis, and flagellin activated NF-κB and stimulated significant secretion of CCL20 and IL-8 by HT-29 cells. Conversely, B. infantis, L. salivarius or M. smegmatis did not activate NF-κB or augment CCL20 or IL-8 production. Treatment with B. infantis, but not L. salivarius, dose-dependently inhibited the baseline secretion of CCL20. In cells pre-treated with B. infantis, C. difficile-, S. typhimurium-, and flagellin-induced CCL20 were significantly attenuated. B. infantis did not limit M. Paratuberculosis-induced CCL20 secretion.
Conclusion
This study is the first to demonstrate that a commensal strain can attenuate CCL20 secretion in HT-29 IECs. Collectively, the data indicate that M. paratuberculosis may mediate mucosal damage and that B. infantis can exert immunomodulatory effects on IECs that mediate host responses to flagellin and flagellated enteric pathogens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-54
PMCID: PMC2763856  PMID: 19814810
12.  Identification of SH3 domain interaction partners of human FasL (CD178) by phage display screening 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:53.
Background -
Fas ligand is a cytotoxic effector molecule of T and NK cells which is characterized by an intracellular N-terminal polyproline region that serves as a docking site for SH3 and WW domain proteins. Several previously described Fas ligand-interacting SH3 domain proteins turned out to be crucial for the regulation of storage, expression and function of the death factor. Recent observations, however, indicate that Fas ligand is also subject to posttranslational modifications including shedding and intramembrane proteolysis. This results in the generation of short intracellular fragments that might either be degraded or translocate to the nucleus to influence transcription. So far, protein-protein interactions that specifically regulate the fate of the intracellular fragments have not been identified.
Results -
In order to further define the SH3 domain interactome of the intracellular region of Fas ligand, we now screened a human SH3 domain phage display library. In addition to known SH3 domains mediating binding to the Fas ligand proline-rich domain, we were able to identify a number of additional SH3 domains that might also associate with FasL. Potential functional implications of the new binding proteins for the death factor's biology are discussed. For Tec kinases and sorting nexins, the observed interactions were verified in cellular systems by pulldown experiments.
Conclusion -
We provide an extended list of putative Fas ligand interaction partners, confirming previously identified interactions, but also introducing several novel SH3 domain proteins that might be important regulators of Fas ligand function.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-53
PMCID: PMC2763855  PMID: 19807924
13.  Prerequisites for cytokine measurements in clinical trials with multiplex immunoassays 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:52.
Background
Growing knowledge about cellular interactions in the immune system, including the central role of cytokine networks, has lead to new treatments using monoclonal antibodies that block specific components of the immune system. Systemic cytokine concentrations can serve as surrogate outcome parameters of these interventions to study inflammatory pathways operative in patients in vivo. This is now possible due to novel technologies such as multiplex immunoassays (MIA) that allows detection of multiple cytokines in a single sample. However, apparently trivial underappreciated processes, (sample handling and storage, interference of endogenous plasma proteins) can greatly impact the reliability and reproducibility of cytokine detection.
Therefore we set out to investigate several processes that might impact cytokine profiles such as blood collecting tubes, duration of storage, and number of freeze thawing cycles.
Results
Since under physiological conditions cytokine concentrations normally are low or undetectable we spiked cytokines in the various plasma and serum samples. Overall recoveries ranged between 80-120%. Long time storage showed cytokines are stable for a period up to 2 years of storage at -80°C. After 4 years several cytokines (IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-10, IL-15 and CXCL8) degraded up to 75% or less of baseline values. Furthermore we show that only 2 out of 15 cytokines remained stable after several freeze-thawing cycles. We also demonstrate implementation of an internal control for multiplex cytokine immunoassays.
Conclusion
All together we show parameters which are essential for measurement of cytokines in the context of clinical trials.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-52
PMCID: PMC2761376  PMID: 19785746
14.  Biochemical analysis of CTLA-4 immunoreactive material from human blood 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:51.
Background
CTLA-4 was initially described as a membrane-bound molecule that inhibited lymphocyte activation by interacting with B7.1 and B7.2 molecules on antigen presenting cells. Alternative splicing of mRNA encoding the CTLA-4 receptor leads to the production of a molecule (sCTLA-4) that lacks a membrane anchor and is therefore secreted into the extracellular space. Despite studies finding that people with autoimmune disease more frequently express high levels of sCTLA-4 in their blood than apparently healthy people, the significance of these findings is unclear.
Methods
Molecules isolated from blood using CTLA-4 specific antibodies were analyzed with ligand binding assays, mass spectroscopy, and biochemical fractionation in an effort to increase our understanding of CTLA-4 immunoreactive material.
Results
Mass spectroscopy analysis of the molecules recognized by multiple CTLA-4-specific antibodies failed to identify any CTLA-4 protein. Even though these molecules bind to the CTLA-4 receptors B7.1 and B7.2, they also exhibit properties common to immunoglobulins.
Conclusion
We have identified molecules in blood that are recognized by CTLA-4 specific antibodies but also exhibit properties of immunoglobulins. Our data indicates that what has been called sCTLA-4 is not a direct product of the CTLA-4 gene, and that the CTLA-4 protein is not part of this molecule. These results may explain why the relationship of sCTLA-4 to immune system activity has been difficult to elucidate.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-51
PMCID: PMC2758829  PMID: 19772653
15.  Control of CD56 expression and tumor cell cytotoxicity in human Vγ2Vδ2 T cells 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:50.
Background
In lymphocyte subsets, expression of CD56 (neural cell adhesion molecule-1) correlates with cytotoxic effector activity. For cells bearing the Vγ2Vδ2 T cell receptor, isoprenoid pyrophosphate stimulation leads to uniform activation and proliferation, but only a fraction of cells express CD56 and display potent cytotoxic activity against tumor cells. Our goal was to show whether CD56 expression was regulated stochastically, similar to conventional activation antigens, or whether CD56 defined a lineage of cells committed to the cytotoxic phenotype.
Results
Tracking individual cell clones defined by their Vγ2 chain CDR3 region sequences, we found that CD56 was expressed on precursor cytotoxic T cells already present in the population irrespective of their capacity to proliferate after antigen stimulation. Public T cell receptor sequences found in the CD56+ subset from one individual might appear in the CD56- subset of another donor. The commitment of individual clones to CD56+ or CD56- lineages was stable for each donor over a 1 year interval.
Conclusion
The ability to express CD56 was not predicted by TCR sequence or by the strength of signal received by the TCR. For γδ T cells, cytotoxic effector function is acquired when cytotoxic precursors within the population are stimulated to proliferate and express CD56. Expression of CD56 defines a committed lineage to the cytotoxic phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-50
PMCID: PMC2761874  PMID: 19772585
16.  Ethanol inhibits LPS-induced signaling and modulates cytokine production in peritoneal macrophages in vivo in a model for binge drinking 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:49.
Background
Previous reports indicate that ethanol, in a binge drinking model in mice, inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in vivo. However, the inhibition of signaling through TLR4 has not been investigated in this experimental model in vivo. Considering evidence that signaling can be very different in vitro and in vivo, the present study was conducted to determine if effects of ethanol on TLR4 signaling reported for cells in culture or cells removed from ethanol treated mice and stimulated in culture also occur when ethanol treatment and TLR4 activation occur in vivo.
Results
Phosphorylated p38, ERK, and c-Jun (nuclear) were quantified with kits or by western blot using samples taken 15, 30, and 60 min after stimulation of peritoneal macrophages with lipopolysaccharide in vivo. Effects of ethanol were assessed by administering ethanol by gavage at 6 g/kg 30 min before administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Cytokine concentrations in the samples of peritoneal lavage fluid and in serum were determined at 1, 2, and 6 hr after lipopolysaccharide administration. All of these data were used to measure the area under the concentration vs time curve, which provided an indication of the overall effects of ethanol in this system. Ethanol suppressed production of most pro-inflammatory cytokines to a similar degree as it inhibited key TLR4 signaling events. However, NF-κB (p65) translocation to the nucleus was not inhibited by ethanol. To determine if NF-κB composed of other subunits was inhibited, transgenic mice with a luciferase reporter were used. This revealed a reproducible inhibition of NF-κB activity, which is consistent with the observed inhibition of cytokines whose expression is known to be NF-κB dependent.
Conclusion
Overall, the effects of ethanol on signalling in vivo were similar to those reported for in vitro exposure to ethanol and/or lipopolysaccharide. However, inhibition of the activation of NF-κB was not detected as translocation of p65 to the nucleus but was detected using transgenic reporter mice. The observation that ethanol given 24 hr before dosing with LPS modulated production of some cytokines indicates a persistent effect which does not require continued presence of ethanol.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-49
PMCID: PMC2761873  PMID: 19765273
17.  Understanding diversity of human innate immunity receptors: analysis of surface features of leucine-rich repeat domains in NLRs and TLRs 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:48.
Background
The human innate immune system uses a system of extracellular Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and intracellular Nod-like receptors (NLRs) to match the appropriate level of immune response to the level of threat from the current environment. Almost all NLRs and TLRs have a domain consisting of multiple leucine-rich repeats (LRRs), which is believed to be involved in ligand binding. LRRs, found also in thousands of other proteins, form a well-defined "horseshoe"-shaped structural scaffold that can be used for a variety of functions, from binding specific ligands to performing a general structural role. The specific functional roles of LRR domains in NLRs and TLRs are thus defined by their detailed surface features. While experimental crystal structures of four human TLRs have been solved, no structure data are available for NLRs.
Results
We report a quantitative, comparative analysis of the surface features of LRR domains in human NLRs and TLRs, using predicted three-dimensional structures for NLRs. Specifically, we calculated amino acid hydrophobicity, charge, and glycosylation distributions within LRR domain surfaces and assessed their similarity by clustering. Despite differences in structural and genomic organization, comparison of LRR surface features in NLRs and TLRs allowed us to hypothesize about their possible functional similarities. We find agreement between predicted surface similarities and similar functional roles in NLRs and TLRs with known agonists, and suggest possible binding partners for uncharacterized NLRs.
Conclusion
Despite its low resolution, our approach permits comparison of molecular surface features in the absence of crystal structure data. Our results illustrate diversity of surface features of innate immunity receptors and provide hints for function of NLRs whose specific role in innate immunity is yet unknown.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-48
PMCID: PMC2747839  PMID: 19728889
18.  Endogenous Fms-like Tyrosine Kinase-3 Ligand levels are not altered in mice after a severe burn and infection 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:47.
Background
Fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 ligand (Flt3L) is a hemopoietic cytokine and dendritic cell (DC) growth factor that promotes the proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells into DCs. We have previously found that treatment of severely burned mice with recombinant Flt3L significantly enhances DC production and bacterial clearance from infected burn wounds, and increases global immune cell activation and survival in response to a burn wound infection. These significant benefits of Flt3L treatment after burn injury have prompted the question of whether or not severe burn injury induces deficits in endogenous Flt3L levels that could affect DCs and subsequent responses to infection.
Results
To address this, male BALB/c mice received a 30% total body surface area scald burn. Blood, spleens, and wound-draining lymph nodes were harvested at various time-points after injury. Some mice received a wound inoculation with P. aeruginosa. Murine Flt3L and G-CSF levels were measured by ELISA. Burn injury had no significant effect on Flt3L levels at any post-burn time-point examined compared to normal Flt3L levels in the sera, spleen, or lymph nodes. Additionally, Flt3L levels in the sera, spleen, and lymph nodes were not significantly altered when wounds were inoculated on the day of burn injury or at post-burn time points examined. Alternatively, levels of G-CSF were increased in response to burn injury and burn wound infection. Additionally, DC numbers and functions were not altered following burn injury alone. There was no significant difference between the number of DCs in the spleens of sham-injured mice and mice at 5 days after burn injury. When naïve T cells from sham-injured mice were co-cultured with DCs from either sham- or burn-injured mice, IFN-γ production was similar, however, IFN-γ levels produced by T cells harvested from burn-injured mice were significantly lower than those produced by T cells from sham mice, regardless of which DC group, sham or burn, was used in the coculture.
Conclusion
These data suggest that the beneficial effects of Flt3L treatments after burn injury are not due to correction of a burn-associated Flt3L deficiency but rather, are likely due to supplementary stimulation of DC production and immune responses to infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-47
PMCID: PMC2744912  PMID: 19715582
19.  Interleukin-21 induces the differentiation of human umbilical cord blood CD34-lineage- cells into pseudomature lytic NK cells 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:46.
Background
Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is enriched with transplantable CD34+ cells. In addition to CD34-expressing haematopoietic stem cells (HSC), human UCB contains a rare population of CD34-lineage- cells endowed with the ability to differentiate along the T/NK pathway in response to interleukin (IL)-15 and a stromal cell support. IL-21 is a crucial regulator of NK cell function, whose influence on IL-15-induced differentiation of CD34-lineage- cells has not been investigated previously. The present study was designed and conducted to address whether IL-21 might replace the stromal cell requirements and foster the IL-15-induced NK differentiation of human UCB CD34-lineage- cells.
Results
CD34-lineage- cells were maintained in liquid culture with Flt3-L and SCF, with the addition of IL-15 and IL-21, either alone or in combination. Cultures were established in the absence of feeder cells or serum supplementation. Cytokine-treated cells were used to evaluate cell surface phenotype, expression of molecular determinants of lymphoid/NK cell differentiation, secretion of IFN-γ, GM-CSF, TNF-α and CCL3/MIP-1α, and cytolytic activity against NK-sensitive tumour cell targets. CD34-lineage- cells proliferated vigorously in response to IL-15 and IL-21 but not to IL-21 alone, and up-regulated phosphorylated Stat1 and Stat3 proteins. CD34-lineage- cells expanded by IL-21 in combination with IL-15 acquired lymphoid morphology and killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR)-CD56+CD16-/+ phenotype, consistent with pseudo-mature NK cells. IL-21/IL-15-differentiated cells expressed high levels of mRNA for Bcl-2, GATA-3 and Id2, a master switch required for NK-cell development, and harboured un-rearranged TCRγ genes. From a functional standpoint, IL-21/IL-15-treated cells secreted copious amounts of IFN-γ, GM-CSF and CCL3/MIP-1α, and expressed cell surface CD107a upon contact with NK-sensitive tumour targets, a measure of exocytosis of NK secretory granules.
Conclusion
This study underpins a novel role for IL-21 in the differentiation of pseudo-mature lytic NK cells in a synergistic context with IL-15, and identifies a potential strategy to expand functional NK cells for immunotherapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-46
PMCID: PMC2743656  PMID: 19712464
20.  The Toll-Like receptor adaptor TRIF contributes to otitis media pathogenesis and recovery 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:45.
Background
Toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling is crucial for innate immune responses to infection. The involvement of TLRs in otitis media (OM), the most prevalent childhood disease in developed countries, has been implicated by studies in middle ear cell lines, by association studies of TLR-related gene polymorphisms, and by altered OM in mice bearing mutations in TLR genes. Activated TLRs signal via two alternative intracellular signaling molecules with differing effects; MyD88 (Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88) inducing primarily interleukin expression and TRIF (Tir-domain-containing adaptor inducing interferon β) mediating type I interferon (IFN) expression. We tested the hypothesis that TRIF and type I IFN signaling play a role in OM, using a murine model of OM induced by non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). The ME inflammatory response to NTHi was examined in wild-type (WT) and TRIF-/- mice by qPCR, gene microarray, histopathology and bacterial culture.
Results
Expression of TRIF mRNA was only modesty enhanced during OM, but both type I IFN signalling genes and type I IFN-inducible genes were significantly up-regulated in WT mice. TRIF-deficient mice showed reduced but more persistent mucosal hyperplasia and less leukocyte infiltration into the ME in response to NTHi infection than did WT animals. Viable bacteria could be cultured from MEs of TRIF-/- mice for much longer in the course of disease than was the case for middle ears of WT mice.
Conclusion
Our results demonstrate that activation of TRIF/type I IFN responses is important in both the pathogenesis and resolution of NTHi-induced OM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-45
PMCID: PMC2736931  PMID: 19656404
21.  Enhancement of the priming efficacy of DNA vaccines encoding dendritic cell-targeted antigens by synergistic toll-like receptor ligands 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:43.
Background
Targeting of protein antigens to dendritic cells (DC) via the DEC205 receptor enhances presentation of antigen-derived peptides on MHC-I and MHC-II molecules and, in the presence of costimulatory signals, antigen-specific immune responses. The immunogenicity and efficacy of DNA vaccination can also be enhanced by fusing the encoded antigen to single chain antibodies directed against DEC205. To further improve this strategy, we evaluated different toll-like receptor ligands (TLR) and CD40 ligands (CD40L) as adjuvants for DNA vaccines encoding a DEC205-single-chain antibody fused to the ovalbumin model antigen or HIV-1 Gag and assessed the priming efficacy of DNA in a DNA prime adenoviral vector boost immunization regimen.
Results
Mice were primed with the adjuvanted DEC-205 targeted DNA vaccines and boosted with adenoviral vectors encoding the same antigens. CD8+ T cell responses were determined after the adenoviral booster immunization, to determine how well the different DNA immunization regimens prime for the adenoviral boost. In the absence of adjuvants, targeting of DNA-encoded ovalbumin to DCs suppressed CD8+ T-cell responses after the adenoviral booster immunization. CD8+ T-cell responses to the DEC205 targeted DNA vaccines increased only slightly by adding either the TLR-9 ligand CpG, the TLR-3 ligand Poly I:C, or CD40 ligand expression plasmids. However, the combination of both TLR-ligands led to a strong enhancement of CD8+ T-cell responses compared to a non-targeted DNA vaccine. This finding was confirmed using HIV Gag as antigen.
Conclusion
Although DNA prime adenoviral vector boost immunizations belong to the strongest inducers of cytotoxic T cell responses in different animal models and humans, the CD8+ T cell responses can be further improved by targeting the DNA encoded antigen to DEC205 in the presence of synergistic TLR ligands CpG and Poly I:C.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-43
PMCID: PMC2731061  PMID: 19650904
22.  Bioluminescence-based visualization of CD4 T cell dynamics using a T lineage-specific luciferase transgenic model1 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:44.
Background
Rapid clonal expansion of T cells occurs in response to antigenic challenges. The kinetics of the T cell response has previously been described using tissue-based studies performed at defined time points. Luciferase bioluminescence has recently been utilized for non-invasive analysis of in vivo biologic processes in real-time.
Results
We have created a novel transgenic mouse model (T-Lux) using a human CD2 mini-gene to direct luciferase expression specifically to the T cell compartment. T-Lux T cells demonstrated normal homing patterns within the intact mouse and following adoptive transfer. Bioluminescent signal correlated with T cell numbers in the whole body images as well as within specific organ regions of interest. Following transfer into lymphopenic (RAG2-/-) recipients, homeostatic proliferation of T-Lux T cells was visualized using bioluminescent imaging. Real-time bioluminescent analysis of CD4+ T cell antigen-specific responses enabled real-time comparison of the kinetics and magnitude of clonal expansion and contraction in the inductive lymph node and tissue site of antigen injection. T cell expansion was dose-dependent despite the presence of supraphysiologic numbers of OVA-specific OT-II transgenic TCR T-Lux T cells. CD4+ T cells subsequently underwent a rapid (3–4 day) contraction phase in the draining lymph node, with a delayed contraction in the antigen delivery site, with bioluminescent signal diminished below initial levels, representing TCR clonal frequency control.
Conclusion
The T-Lux mouse provides a novel, efficient model for tracking in vivo aspects of the CD4+ T cell response to antigen, providing an attractive approach for studies directed at immunotherapy or vaccine design.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-44
PMCID: PMC2736162  PMID: 19650922
23.  In vitro, but not in vivo, reversibility of peritoneal macrophages activation during experimental acute pancreatitis 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:42.
Background
Systemic inflammatory response syndrome is one of the major pathobiologic processes underlying severe acute pancreatitis and the degree of macrophage activation could be one of the factors that finally determine the severity of the disease. We evaluated the activation phenotype in peritoneal macrophages during the progression of an experimental model of acute pancreatitis induced in rats by intraductal administration of 5% sodium taurocholate and the effect of IL-4 and IL-13 to modulate this activation.
Samples of pancreas, lung and adipose tissue as well as plasma were also obtained. In some animals IL4 and IL13 were injected 1 h after induction in order to modulate macrophage activation. The expressions of TNFα and Mannose Receptor, as indicators of classical and alternative macrophage activation, were evaluated. Levels of myeloperoxidase and plasma lipase were determined to evaluate the severity of the inflammatory process. The stability of IL-4 in ascitic fluid and plasma was evaluated.
Results
Peritoneal macrophages showed a classical M1 activation clearly induced 3 h after pancreatitis induction and maintained until 18 h. Treatment with IL-4 and IL-13 reversed the activation of macrophages from a classical M1 to alternative M2 in vitro, but failed to modulate the response of peritoneal macrophages in vivo despite a reduction in inflammation was observed in lung and adipose tissue. Finally, IL-4 shows a short half-live in ascitic fluid when compared with plasma.
Conclusion
Peritoneal macrophages adopt a pro-inflammatory activation early during acute pancreatitis. Treatment with M2 cytokines could revert in vitro the pancreatitis-induced activation of macrophages but fails to modulate its activation in vivo. This treatment has only a moderate effect in reducing the systemic inflammation associated to acute pancreatitis. Hydrolytic enzymes presents in ascitic fluid could be involved in the degradation of cytokines, strongly reducing its utility to modulate peritoneal macrophages in pancreatitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-42
PMCID: PMC2727495  PMID: 19646232
24.  Enrichment and analysis of secretory lysosomes from lymphocyte populations 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:41.
Background
In specialized cells, such as mast cells, macrophages, T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells in the immune system and for instance melanocytes in the skin, secretory lysosomes (SL) have evolved as bifunctional organelles that combine degradative and secretory properties. Mutations in lysosomal storage, transport or sorting molecules are associated with severe immunodeficiencies, autoimmunity and (partial) albinism. In order to analyze the function and content of secretory lysosomes in different cell populations, an efficient enrichment of these organelles is mandatory.
Results
Based on a combination of differential and density gradient centrifugation steps, we provide a protocol to enrich intact SL from expanded hematopoietic cells, here T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells. Individual fractions were initially characterized by Western blotting using antibodies against an array of marker proteins for intracellular compartments. As indicated by the presence of LAMP-3 (CD63) and FasL (CD178), we obtained a selective enrichment of SL in one of the resulting organelle fractions. The robustness and reproducibility of the applied separation protocol was examined by a high-resolution proteome analysis of individual SL preparations of different donors by 2D difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE).
Conclusion
The provided protocol is readily applicable to enrich and isolate intact secretory vesicles from individual cell populations. It can be used to compare SL of normal and transformed cell lines or primary cell populations from healthy donors and patients with lysosomal storage or transport diseases, or from corresponding mutant mice. A subsequent proteome analysis allows the characterization of molecules involved in lysosomal maturation and cytotoxic effector function at high-resolution.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-41
PMCID: PMC2726124  PMID: 19640298
25.  Sequence determinants of innate immune activation by short interfering RNAs 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:40.
Background
Short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) have been shown to induce immune stimulation through a number of different receptors in a range of cell types. In primary cells, both TLR7 and TLR8 have been shown to recognise siRNAs however, despite the identification of a number of TLR7/8 stimulatory RNA motifs, the complete and definitive sequence determinants of TLR7 and TLR8 are yet to be elucidated.
Results
A total of 207 siRNA sequences were screened for TLR7/8 stimulation in human PBMCs. There was a significant correlation between the U count of the U-rich strand and the immunostimulatory activity of the duplex. Using siRNAs specifically designed to analyse the effect of base substitutions and hybridisation of the two strands, we found that sequence motifs and the thermodynamic properties of the duplexes appeared to be the major determinants of siRNA immunogenicity and that the strength of the hybridisation interaction between the two strands correlated negatively with immunostimulatory activity.
Conclusion
The data presented favour a model of TLR7/8 activation by siRNAs, in which the two strands are denatured in the endosome, and single-stranded, U-rich RNA species activate TLR7/8. These findings have relevance to the design of siRNAs, particularly for in vivo or clinical applications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-10-40
PMCID: PMC2724479  PMID: 19630977

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