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1.  Forced IFIT-2 expression represses LPS induced TNF-alpha expression at posttranscriptional levels 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:75.
Background
Interferon induced tetratricopeptide repeat protein 2 (IFIT-2, P54) belongs to the type I interferon response genes and is highly induced after stimulation with LPS. The biological function of this protein is so far unclear. Previous studies indicated that IFIT-2 binds to the initiation factor subunit eIF-3c, affects translation initiation and inhibits protein synthesis. The aim of the study was to further characterize the function of IFIT-2.
Results
Stimulation of RAW264.7 macrophages with LPS or IFN-γ leads to the expression of IFIT-2 in a type I interferon dependent manner. By using stably transfected RAW264.7 macrophages overexpressing IFIT-2 we found that IFIT-2 inhibits selectively LPS induced expression of TNF-α, IL-6, and MIP-2 but not of IFIT-1 or EGR-1. In IFIT-2 overexpressing cells TNF-α mRNA expression was lower after LPS stimulation due to reduced mRNA stability. Further experiments suggest that characteristics of the 3'UTR of transcripts discriminate whether IFIT-2 has a strong impact on protein expression or not.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that IFIT-2 may affect selectively LPS induced protein expression probably by regulation at different posttranscriptional levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-75
PMCID: PMC2632614  PMID: 19108715
2.  Insulin-like growth factor I promotes cord blood T cell maturation through monocytes and inhibits their apoptosis in part through interleukin-6 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:74.
Background
The functional immaturity of T cells contributes to the susceptibility of neonates to infections and the less severe graft-versus-host disease associated with cord blood (CB) transplantation. We have previously reported that insulin-like growth factor – I (IGF-I) promotes the phytohaemagglutinin (PHA)-induced CB T cell maturation and inhibits their apoptosis in mononuclear cell (MC) culture. We hypothesized that the effects of IGF-I may be mediated by accessory cells and soluble factors.
Results
This study showed that the kinetics of PHA-induced maturation in purified CD3+ T cell was delayed compared to that in CBMC. The addition of autologous CD14+ monocytes increased T cell maturation and potentiated the effect of IGF-I. The addition of IL-6 had no effect on CB T cell maturation but it reduced PHA-induced apoptosis significantly. We further demonstrated that the neutralisation of IL-6 in CBMC culture partially abrogated the anti-apoptotic effect of IGF-1 on T cells. The anti-apoptotic effect of IL-6 was not mediated via the reduction of Fas expression in T cell subsets.
Conclusion
Our results suggested that the maturation effect of IGF-1 is partially mediated by monocytes and the anti-apoptotic effect in part via IL-6. Further investigation is needed to explore the therapeutic use of IGF-I in enhancing neonatal immunity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-74
PMCID: PMC2631546  PMID: 19091070
3.  Changing survival, memory cell compartment, and T-helper balance of lymphocytes between severe and mild asthma 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:73.
Background
Asthma is a complicated network of inflammatory reactions. It is classified into mild, moderate, and severe persistent asthma. The success of asthma therapy relies much on understanding the underlying mechanisms of inflammation at each stage of asthma severity. The aim of this study was to explore the differences in apoptotic potential, CD4/CD8 ratio, memory compartment, and T- helper (Th) 1 and 2 profile of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) in patients with mild intermittent asthma and severe persistent asthma during exacerbation periods.
Results
Four research lines were investigated and compared among mild asthmatics, severe asthmatics, and healthy groups by applying immunocytochemical staining of PBL. Antiapoptotic and proapoptotic proteins with Bcl-2/Bax ratio, CD4, CD8 markers with CD4+/CD8+ ratio, CD45RO+, CD45RA+ markers with memory/naïve ratio (CD45RO+/CD45RA+). Th2/Th1 cytokines balance represented by IL-4/IFN-γ ratio was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for in vitro PBL cytokine synthesis. It was found that Bcl-2/Bax ratio was higher in severe than in mild asthmatics which in turn was higher than in healthy group. And memory/naïve ratio of PBL was higher in severe than in mild asthmatics. Moreover, memory cells, CD45RO+ and CD45RO+/CD45RA+ ratio were correlated directly with Bcl-2/Bax, in severe and mild asthma patients. In contrast, CD4+/CD8+ ratio was not changed significantly among healthy group, mild and severe asthmatics. However, CD8+ cells were correlated directly with memory cells, CD45RO+, in severe asthmatics only. Interestingly, the dominant profile of cytokines appeared to change from T helper 2 (Th2) in mild asthmatics to T helper 1 (Th1) in severe asthmatics where the lowest in vitro IL-4/IFN-γ ratio and highest IFN-γ were found.
Conclusion
It was concluded that the underlying mechanisms of inflammation might vary greatly with asthma stage of severity. Mild intermittent asthma is mainly Th2 allergen-oriented reaction during exacerbations with good level of apoptosis making the inflammation as self-limiting, while in severe persistent asthma, the inflammatory reaction mediated mainly by Th1 cytokines with progressive loss of apoptosis leading to longer exacerbations, largely expanded memory cells, CD45RO+, leading to persistent baseline inflammation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-73
PMCID: PMC2631545  PMID: 19087256
4.  Dose dependent effects of platelet derived chondroitinsulfate A on the binding of CCL5 to endothelial cells 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:72.
Background
Chemokines immobilized on endothelial cells play a central role in the induced firm adhesion and transendothelial migration of leukocytes. Activation of platelets at sites of vascular injury is considered to support leukocyte adhesion and extravasation. However, activated platelets also secrete soluble glycosaminoglycans that can interfere with immobilization of chemokines. We therefore analyzed the impact of platelet derived glycosaminoglycans on the immobilization of the chemokine CCL5 (RANTES) on human microvascular endothelial cells and their influence on CCL5-CCR5 interactions.
Results
We confirm that undiluted serum in contrast to plasma decreases binding of CCL5 to endothelial cells. However, when lower concentrations of serum were used, CCL5-presentation on endothelial cells was markedly enhanced. This enhancement was neutralized if serum was digested with chondroinitase ABC. Using different chondroitinsulfate-subtypes we demonstrate that chondroitinsulfate A mediates the enhanced presentation of CCL5 on endothelial cells, whereas chondroitinsulfate B/C even at low concentrations block CCL5 binding. CCR5 downregulation on CCR5-transfected CHO cells or human monocytes is increased by preincubation of CCL5 with serum or chondroitinsulfate A.
Conclusion
We show that chondroitinsulfate A released from platelets increases the binding of chemokines to endothelial cells and supports receptor internalization in a dose dependent manner. These data help to understand the proinflammatory effects of activated platelets.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-72
PMCID: PMC2614936  PMID: 19068144
5.  Identification of distinct human invariant natural killer T-cell response phenotypes to alpha-galactosylceramide 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:71.
Background
Human CD1d-restricted, invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT) are a unique class of T lymphocytes that recognise glycolipid antigens such as α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer) and upon T cell receptor (TCR) activation produce both Th1 and Th2 cytokines. iNKT cells expand when cultured in-vitro with αGalCer and interleukin 2 (IL-2) in a CD1d-restricted manner. However, the expansion ratio of human iNKT cells varies between individuals and this has implications for attempts to manipulate this pathway therapeutically. We have studied a panel of twenty five healthy human donors to assess the variability in their in-vitro iNKT cell expansion responses to stimulation with CD1d ligands and investigated some of the factors that may influence this phenomenon.
Results
Although all donors had comparable numbers of circulating iNKT cells their growth rates in-vitro over 14 days in response to a range of CD1d ligands and IL-2 were highly donor-dependent. Two reproducible donor response patterns of iNKT expansion were seen which we have called 'strong' or 'poor' iNKT responders. Donor response phenotype did not correlate with age, gender, frequency of circulating iNKT, or with the CD1d ligand utilised. Addition of exogenous recombinant human interleukin 4 (IL-4) to 'poor' responder donor cultures significantly increased their iNKT proliferative capacity, but not to levels equivalent to that of 'strong' responder donors. However in 'strong' responder donors, addition of IL-4 to their cultures did not significantly alter the frequency of iNKT cells in the expanded CD3+ population.
Conclusion
(i) in-vitro expansion of human iNKT cells in response to CD1d ligand activation is highly donor variable, (ii) two reproducible patterns of donor iNKT expansion were observed, which could be classified into 'strong' and 'poor' responder phenotypes, (iii) donor iNKT response phenotypes did not correlate with age, gender, frequency of circulating iNKT cells, or with the CD1d ligand utilised, (iv) addition of IL-4 to 'poor' but not 'strong' responder donor cultures significantly increased their in-vitro iNKT cell expansion to αGalCer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-71
PMCID: PMC2613383  PMID: 19055753
6.  Interleukin-1beta and tumour necrosis factor-alpha impede neutral lipid turnover in macrophage-derived foam cells 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:70.
Background
Pro-inflammatory cytokines can affect intracellular lipid metabolism. A variety of effects have been described for different cell types; hepatocyte lipid turnover pathways are inhibited during inflammation, whereas interleukin-1β (IL-1β) reduces intracellular cholesterol levels in fibroblasts. Levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) are up-regulated at sites of formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Plaque formation is though to begin with infiltration of monocytes to the intimal layer of the vascular wall, followed by differentiation to macrophages and macrophage uptake of modified lipoproteins, resulting in accumulation of intracellular lipids. The lipid-filled cells are referred to as macrophage foam cells, a key feature of atherosclerotic plaques. We have investigated the effects of IL-1β and TNF-α on macrophage foam cells in order to assess whether presence of the pro-inflammatory cytokines improves or aggravates macrophage foam cell formation by affecting lipid accumulation and lipid turn-over in the cells.
Results
Differentiated primary human macrophages or THP-1 cells were lipid loaded by uptake of aggregated low density lipoproteins (AgLDL) or very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), and then incubated with IL-1β (0 – 5000 pg/ml) in lipoprotein-free media for 24 h. Cells incubated in absence of cytokine utilized accumulated neutral lipids, in particular triglycerides. Addition of exogenous IL-1β resulted in a dose-dependent retention of intracellular cholesterol and triglycerides. Exchanging IL-1β with TNF-α gave a similar response. Analysis of fatty acid efflux and intracellular fatty acid activation revealed a pattern of decreased lipid utilization in cytokine-stimulated cells.
Conclusion
IL-1β and TNF-α enhance macrophage foam cell formation, in part by inhibition of macrophage intracellular lipid catabolism. If present in vivo, these mechanisms will further augment the pro-atherogenic properties of the two cytokines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-70
PMCID: PMC2596083  PMID: 19032770
7.  Tolerance induced via TLR2 and TLR4 in human dendritic cells: role of IRAK-1 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:69.
Background
While dendritic cells (DCs) can induce tolerance in T cells, little is known about tolerance induction in DCs themselves. We have analysed tolerance induced in human in-vitro generated DCs by repeated stimulation with ligands for TLR4 and TLR2.
Results
DCs stimulated with the TLR4 ligand LPS did show a rapid and pronounced expression of TNF mRNA and protein. When DCs were pre-cultured for 2 days with 5 ng LPS/ml then the subsequent response to stimulation with a high dose of LPS (500 ng/ml) was strongly reduced for both TNF mRNA and protein. At the promoter level there was a reduced transactivation by the -1173 bp TNF promoter and by a construct with a tetrameric NF-κB motif. Within the signalling cascade leading to NF-κB activation we found an ablation of the IRAK-1 adaptor protein in LPS-tolerant DCs. Pre-culture of DCs with the TLR2 ligand Pam3Cys also led to tolerance with respect to TNF gene expression and IRAK-1 protein was ablated in such tolerant cells as well, while IRAK-4 protein levels were unchanged.
Conclusion
These data show that TLR-ligands can render DCs tolerant with respect to TNF gene expression by a mechanism that likely involves blockade of signal transduction at the level of IRAK-1.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-69
PMCID: PMC2628880  PMID: 19025640
8.  Immunological evaluation of Lactobacillus casei Zhang: a newly isolated strain from koumiss in Inner Mongolia, China 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:68.
Background
There is increasing evidence to suggest an immunomodulation function both within the intestines and systemically upon consuming probiotic species. We recently isolated a novel LAB, Lactobacillus caseiZhang (LcZhang) from koumiss. LcZhang exhibited favorable probiotic properties, such as acid resistance, bile resistance, gastrointestinal (GI) colonization ability, etc. In order to examine the immunomodulatory qualities of LcZhang, we administered LcZhang to healthy mice with varying doses of either live or heat-killed LcZhang and measured various parameters of the host immune response.
Results
The study was performed in four separate experiments via oral administration of live and heat-killed LcZhang to BALB/c mice for several consecutive days. We investigated the immunomodulating capacity of LcZhang in vivo by analyzing the profile of cytokines, T cell subpopulations, and immunoglobulin concentrations induced in blood serum and intestinal fluid in BALB/c mice. Only live bacteria elicited a wide range of immune responses, which include the increased production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and depression of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels. In addition, interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-2 receptor gene transcription increased significantly, but the proportion of T cell subsets appeared to be unaffected. We also observed that LcZhang was capable of inducing gut mucosal responses by enhancing the production of secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA) as well influencing the systemic immunity via the cytokines released to the circulating blood.
Conclusion
The present work shows that the dose-dependent administration of LcZhang is capable of influencing immune responses, implying that it may be a valuable strain for probiotic use in humans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-68
PMCID: PMC2596084  PMID: 19019236
9.  Transcriptional and apoptotic responses of THP-1 cells to challenge with toxigenic, and non-toxigenic Bacillus anthracis 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:67.
Background
Bacillus anthracis secretes several virulence factors targeting different host organs and cell types during inhalational anthrax infection. The bacterial expression of a key virulence factor, lethal toxin (LeTx) is closely tied to another factor, edema toxin (EdTx). Both are transcribed on the same virulence plasmid (pXO1) and both have been the subject of much individual study. Their combined effect during virulent anthrax likely modulates both the global transcriptional and the phenotypic response of macrophages and phagocytes. In fact, responses brought about by the toxins may be different than each of their individual effects.
Results
Here we report the transcriptional and apoptotic responses of the macrophage-like phagocytic cell line THP-1 exposed to B. anthracis Sterne (pXO1+) spores, and B. anthracis Δ Sterne (pXO1-) spores. These cells are resistant to LeTx-induced cytolysis, a phenotype seen in macrophages from several mouse strains which are sensitive to toxigenic anthrax infection. Our results indicate that the pXO1-containing strain induces higher pro-inflammatory transcriptional responses during the first 4 hours of interaction with bacterium, evident in the upregulation of several genes relevant to Nf-κB, phosphatases, prostaglandins, and TNF-α, along with decreases in expression levels of genes for mitochondrial components. Both bacterial strains induce apoptosis, but in the toxigenic strain-challenged cells, apoptosis is delayed.
Conclusion
This delay in apoptosis occurs despite the much higher level of TNF-α secretion induced by the toxigenic-strain challenge. Interestingly, CFLAR, an important apoptotic inhibitor which blocks apoptosis induced by large amounts of extracellular TNF-α, is upregulated significantly during toxigenic-strain infection, but not at all during non-toxigenic-strain infection, indicating that it may play a role in blocking or delaying TNF-α-mediated apoptosis. The suppression of apoptosis by the toxigenic anthrax strain is consistent with the notion that apoptosis itself may represent a protective host cell response.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-67
PMCID: PMC2613145  PMID: 19014542
10.  Cloning and bioactivity analysis of a CXC ligand in black seabream Acanthopagrus schlegeli: the evolutionary clues of ELR+CXC chemokines 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:66.
Background
The ELR+CXC chemokines are multifunctional mediators that are mainly responsible for the recruitment of leucocytes to sites of inflammation and infection. Because of their high sequence identity with mammalian IL-8, fish IL-8-like CXCs have been named as piscine 'IL-8' and included in the ELR+ subgroup, even though there is no reliable functional or evolutionary evidence to support this classification.
Results
In this investigation, a homologue of piscine 'IL-8' from black seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegeli), called BS CXC, has been cloned and analyzed. The results revealed that BS CXC has a high gene similarity and tertiary structure similarity with piscine and mammalian CXC chemokines, both ELR-CXC and ELR+CXC, although it has a lower identity with ELR-CXC, compared with ELR+CXC chemokines. Like other piscine IL-8, BS CXC has only an incomplete ELR motif, which is essential for the mammalian ELR+CXC ability to attract granulocytes. Bioactivity assay demonstrated that the BS rCXC produced in E. coli significantly stimulated migration of fish neutrophils and macrophages, but had no effect on rat neutrophils and macrophages, whereas hrIL-8 induced strong chemotaxis of fish neutrophils but did not affect fish macrophages. BS CXC seems show some structural and functional properties of the intermediate between ELR-CXC and ELR+CXC.
Conclusion
As an incomplete ELR+CXC chemokine from a modern fish, BS CXC provides some clues on the evolution from ancient ELR-CXC to ELR+CXC by retaining some properties of the intermediate stage in evolution, and it may be more appropriate to call this molecule 'piscine CXC with an incomplete ELR', instead of terming it fish 'IL-8'.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-66
PMCID: PMC2585555  PMID: 18990254
11.  Gut microbiota and lipopolysaccharide content of the diet influence development of regulatory T cells: studies in germ-free mice 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:65.
Background
Mammals are essentially born germ-free but the epithelial surfaces are promptly colonized by astounding numbers of bacteria soon after birth. The most extensive microbial community is harbored by the distal intestine. The gut microbiota outnumber ~10 times the total number of our somatic and germ cells. The host-microbiota relationship has evolved to become mutually beneficial. Studies in germ-free mice have shown that gut microbiota play a crucial role in the development of the immune system. The principal aim of the present study was to elucidate whether the presence of gut microbiota and the quality of a sterile diet containing various amounts of bacterial contaminants, measured by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) content, can influence maturation of the immune system in gnotobiotic mice.
Results
We have found that the presence of gut microbiota and to a lesser extent also the LPS-rich sterile diet drive the expansion of B and T cells in Peyer's patches and mesenteric lymph nodes. The most prominent was the expansion of CD4+ T cells including Foxp3-expressing T cells in mesenteric lymph nodes. Further, we have observed that both the presence of gut microbiota and the LPS-rich sterile diet influence in vitro cytokine profile of spleen cells. Both gut microbiota and LPS-rich diet increase the production of interleukin-12 and decrease the production of interleukin-4. In addition, the presence of gut microbiota increases the production of interleukin-10 and interferon-γ.
Conclusion
Our data clearly show that not only live gut microbiota but also microbial components (LPS) contained in sterile diet stimulate the development, expansion and function of the immune system. Finally, we would like to emphasize that the composition of diet should be regularly tested especially in all gnotobiotic models as the LPS content and other microbial components present in the diet may significantly alter the outcome of experiments.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-65
PMCID: PMC2588440  PMID: 18990206
12.  Identification of human thioredoxin as a novel IFN-gamma-induced factor: Mechanism of induction and its role in cytokine production 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:64.
Background
IFN-γ is a multifunctional peptide with a potent immune defense function which is also known as a prototypic Th1 cytokine. While screening for genes differentially expressed by Th1 and Th2 cytokines, human thioredoxin was identified as a novel target gene induced by IFN-γ. The mechanism by which thioredoxin is induced by IFN-γ and the signaling pathways involved in its induction were analyzed. In addition, the effects of thioredoxin on immune cell survival and cytokine production were examined by thioredoxin over-expression and recombinant thioredoxin treatment.
Results
Human thioredoxin was selectively induced by IFN-γ in monocytic and T cell lines. In monocytic cells, the induction of thioredoxin gene expression by IFN-γ was dose-dependent, and both the mRNA and protein levels were increased by 2~3 fold within 4 to 24 h hours of IFN-γ treatment. The thioredoxin induction by IFN-γ was insensitive to cycloheximide treatment, suggesting that it is a primary response gene induced by IFN-γ. Subsequent analysis of the signaling pathways indicated that the Jak/Stat, Akt, and Erk pathways play a role in IFN-γ signaling that leads to thioredoxin gene expression. Thioredoxin was induced by oxidative or radiation stresses, and it protected the immune cells from apoptosis by reducing the levels of reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, thioredoxin modulated the oxidant-induced cytokine balance toward Th1 by counter-regulating the production of IL-4 and IFN-γ in T cells.
Conclusion
These data suggest that thioredoxin is an IFN-γ-induced factor that may play a role in developing Th1 immunity and in the maintenance of immune homeostasis upon infection, radiation, and oxidative stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-64
PMCID: PMC2596082  PMID: 18983687
13.  Study of membrane potential in T lymphocytes subpopulations using flow cytometry 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:63.
Background
Ion channels are involved in the control of membrane potential (ψ) in a variety of cells. The maintenance of ψ in human T lymphocytes is essential for T-cell activation and was suggested to depend mostly on the voltage-gated Kv1.3 channel. Blockage of Kv1.3 inhibits cytokine production and lymphocyte proliferation in vitro and suppresses immune response in vivo. T lymphocytes are a heterogeneous cell population and the expression of Kv1.3 varies among cell subsets. Oxonol diBA-C4-(3) was used to determine ψ by flow cytometry. The presence of distinct T cell subsets was evaluated by immunophenotyping techniques and the contribution of Kv1.3 channels for the maintenance of ψ was investigated using selective blockers.
Results
The distribution of ψ in T lymphocytes varied among blood donors and did not always follow a unimodal pattern. T lymphocytes were divided into CD3+/CD45RO- and CD3+/CD45RO+ subsets, whose peak channel values of ψ were -58 ± 3.6 mV and -37 ± 4.1 mV, respectively. MgTX (specific inhibitor of Kv1.3 channels) had no significant effect in the ψ of CD3+/CD45RO- subsets but depolarized CD3+/CD45RO+ cells to -27 ± 5.1 mV.
Conclusion
Combination of optical methods for determination of ψ by flow cytometry with immuophenotyping techniques opens new possibilities for the study of ion channels in the biology of heterogeneous cell populations such as T lymphocyte subsets.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-63
PMCID: PMC2584624  PMID: 18980671
14.  Structure-activity relationship of immunostimulatory effects of phthalates 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:61.
Background
Some chemicals, including some phthalate plasticizers, have been shown to have an adjuvant effect in mice. However, an adjuvant effect, defined as an inherent ability to stimulate the humoral immune response, was only observed after exposure to a limited number of the phthalates. An adjuvant effect may be due to the structure or physicochemical characteristics of the molecule. The scope of this study was to investigate which molecular characteristics that determine the observed adjuvant effect of the most widely used phthalate plasticizer, the di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), which is documented as having a strong adjuvant effect. To do so, a series of nine lipophilic compounds with structural and physicochemical relations to DEHP were investigated.
Results
Adjuvant effect of phthalates and related compounds were restricted to the IgG1 antibody formation. No effect was seen on IgE. It appears that lipophilicity plays a crucial role, but lipophilicity does not per se cause an adjuvant effect. In addition to lipophilicity, a phthalate must also possess specific stereochemical characteristics in order for it to have adjuvant effect.
Conclusion
The adjuvant effect of phthalates are highly influenced by both stereochemical and physico-chemical properties. This knowledge may be used in the rational development of plasticizers without adjuvant effect as well as in the design of new immunological adjuvants.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-61
PMCID: PMC2606679  PMID: 18976460
15.  Genomic organization and phylogenetic utility of deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) lymphotoxin-alpha and lymphotoxin-beta 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:62.
Background
Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) are among the most common mammals in North America and are important reservoirs of several human pathogens, including Sin Nombre hantavirus (SNV). SNV can establish a life-long apathogenic infection in deer mice, which can shed virus in excrement for transmission to humans. Patients that die from hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) have been found to express several proinflammatory cytokines, including lymphotoxin (LT), in the lungs. It is thought that these cytokines contribute to the pathogenesis of HCPS. LT is not expressed by virus-specific CD4+ T cells from infected deer mice, suggesting a limited role for this pathway in reservoir responses to hantaviruses.
Results
We have cloned the genes encoding deer mouse LTα and LTβ and have found them to be highly similar to orthologous rodent sequences but with some differences in promoters elements. The phylogenetic analyses performed on the LTα, LTβ, and combined data sets yielded a strongly-supported sister-group relationship between the two murines (the house mouse and the rat). The deer mouse, a sigmodontine, appeared as the sister group to the murine clade in all of the analyses. High bootstrap values characterized the grouping of murids.
Conclusion
No conspicuous differences compared to other species are present in the predicted amino acid sequences of LTα or LTβ; however, some promoter differences were noted in LTβ. Although more extensive taxonomic sampling is required to confirm the results of our analyses, the preliminary findings indicate that both genes (analyzed both separately and in combination) hold potential for resolving relationships among rodents and other mammals at the subfamily level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-62
PMCID: PMC2605436  PMID: 18976466
16.  The prokineticin receptor agonist Bv8 decreases IL-10 and IL-4 production in mice splenocytes by activating prokineticin receptor-1 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:60.
Background
Bv8, prokineticin-1, or endocrine gland-vascular endothelial growth factor, and prokineticin-2 are recently isolated peptide agonists of two G protein-coupled receptors, prokineticin receptor-1 (PROKR 1) and PROKR 2, and have been described as affecting a number of myeloid cell functions. We evaluated the impact of Bv8 on lymphoid cells by investigating its ability to modulate T cell cytokine balance in mouse.
Results
The production of T-helper1 cytokines (IL-2, IFN-γ and IL-1β), the T-helper 2 cytokine IL-4, and the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 by mouse splenocytes was evaluated after polyclonal stimulation or immunisation with the keyhole limpet hemocyanin protein antigen by measuring cytokine levels. When added in vitro to Con-A-stimulated splenocytes, Bv8 significantly increased IL-1β and decreased IL-4 and IL-10; IL-2 and IFN-γ were not affected. Similar results were obtained when Bv8 was administered in vivo. In KLH-immunised mice, splenocytes restimulated in vitro with KLH and Bv8 produced significantly smaller amounts of IL-4 and IL-10. KLH-induced IL-10 and IL-4 production was also significantly blunted in animals administered Bv8 in vivo at the time of KLH immunisation or two weeks later. The Bv8-induced effects were lost in mice lacking the PROKR 1 gene, thus indicating that PROKR 1 is the receptor involved in the modulation of cytokines.
Conclusion
These findings indicate that Bv8/prokineticin-1 is a novel modulator of lymphoid functions, and may be a suitable target for new immunopharmacological strategies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-60
PMCID: PMC2584092  PMID: 18957080
17.  Evaluation of regression methods when immunological measurements are constrained by detection limits 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:59.
Background
The statistical analysis of immunological data may be complicated because precise quantitative levels cannot always be determined. Values below a given detection limit may not be observed (nondetects), and data with nondetects are called left-censored. Since nondetects cannot be considered as missing at random, a statistician faced with data containing these nondetects must decide how to combine nondetects with detects. Till now, the common practice is to impute each nondetect with a single value such as a half of the detection limit, and to conduct ordinary regression analysis. The first aim of this paper is to give an overview of methods to analyze, and to provide new methods handling censored data other than an (ordinary) linear regression. The second aim is to compare these methods by simulation studies based on real data.
Results
We compared six new and existing methods: deletion of nondetects, single substitution, extrapolation by regression on order statistics, multiple imputation using maximum likelihood estimation, tobit regression, and logistic regression. The deletion and extrapolation by regression on order statistics methods gave biased parameter estimates. The single substitution method underestimated variances, and logistic regression suffered loss of power. Based on simulation studies, we found that tobit regression performed well when the proportion of nondetects was less than 30%, and that taken together the multiple imputation method performed best.
Conclusion
Based on simulation studies, the newly developed multiple imputation method performed consistently well under different scenarios of various proportion of nondetects, sample sizes and even in the presence of heteroscedastic errors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-59
PMCID: PMC2592244  PMID: 18928527
18.  Transglutaminase activity in the hematopoietic tissue of a crustacean, Pacifastacus leniusculus, importance in hemocyte homeostasis 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:58.
Background
Transglutaminases (TGases) form a group of enzymes that have many different substrates and among the most well known are fibrin for Factor XIIIa and the clotting protein in crustaceans. We also found that TGase is an abundant protein in the hematopoietic tissue (Hpt) cells of crayfish and hence we have studied the possible function of this enzyme in hematopoiesis.
Results
TGase is one of the most abundant proteins in the Hpt and its mRNA expression as well as enzyme activity is very high in the Hpt cells, lesser in the semi-granular hemocytes and very low in the granular cells. In cultured hematopoietic tissues, high activity was present in cells in the centre of the tissue, whereas cells migrating out of the tissue had very low TGase activity. RNAi experiments using dsRNA for TGase completely knocked down the transcript and as a result the cell morphology was changed and the cells started to spread intensely. If astakine, a cytokine directly involved in hematopoiesis, was added the cells started to spread and adopt a morphology similar to that observed after RNAi of TGase. Astakine had no effect on TGase expression, but after a prolonged incubation for one week with this invertebrate cytokine, TGase activity inside and outside the cells was completely lost. Thus it seems as if astakine addition to the Hpt cells and RNAi of TGase in the cell culture will lead to the same results, i.e. loss of TGase activity in the cells and they start to differentiate and spread.
Conclusion
The results of this study suggest that TGase is important for keeping the Hpt cells in an undifferentiated stage inside the hematopoietic tissue and if expression of TGase mRNA is blocked the cells start to differentiate and spread.
This shows a new function for transglutaminase in preventing hematopoietic stem cells from starting to differentiate and migrate into the hemolymph, whereas their proliferation is unaffected. Astakine is also important for the hematopoiesis, since it induces hemocyte synthesis in the Hpt but now we also show that it in some unknown way participates in the differentiation of the Hpt cells.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-58
PMCID: PMC2573874  PMID: 18840279
19.  Potential effect of prior raccoonpox virus infection in raccoons on vaccinia-based rabies immunization 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:57.
Background
The USDA, Wildlife Services cooperative oral rabies vaccination (ORV) program uses a live vaccinia virus-vectored (genus Orthopoxvirus) vaccine, Raboral V-RG® (V-RG), to vaccinate specific wildlife species against rabies virus in several regions of the U.S. Several naturally occurring orthopoxviruses have been found in North America, including one isolated from asymptomatic raccoons (Procyon lotor). The effect of naturally occurring antibodies to orthopoxviruses on successful V-RG vaccination in raccoons is the focus of this study.
Results
Overall, raccoons pre-immunized (n = 10) with a recombinant raccoonpox virus vaccine (RCN-F1) responded to vaccination with V-RG with lower rabies virus neutralizing antibody (VNA) titers than those which were not pre-immunized (n = 10) and some failed to seroconvert for rabies VNA to detectable levels.
Conclusion
These results suggest that the success of some ORV campaigns may be hindered where raccoonpox virus or possibly other orthopoxvirus antibodies are common in wildlife species targeted for ORV. If these areas are identified, different vaccination strategies may be warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-57
PMCID: PMC2572587  PMID: 18834520
20.  Hematopoietic progenitor cells and interleukin-stimulated endothelium: expansion and differentiation of myeloid precursors 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:56.
Background
Cytokine-stimulated endothelial cells (EC) propagate hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) expansion. However, the effects on the functional capacities of cultured progenitors have not been evaluated. HPC were assessed by flow cytometry, colony and cobblestone assays and long-term cultures (LTC) after culturing in the supernatant of EC stimulated by IL-1β, IL-3 or IL-6.
Results
EC incubation with IL-6 did not improve cell expansion in comparison to non-stimulated EC supernatant, while the HPCs' phenotype and functional capacities were retained. In contrast, IL-1β and IL-3 stimulation resulted in a 10- and 100-fold increase in cell numbers with more than 90% of these cells being CD33(+). Plating efficiencies and LTC initiating cells were greatest in IL-6 supernatants, whereas the highest numbers of burst-forming units were observed using IL-3. IL-1β supernatants diminished the number of 5-week cobblestone-areas, whereas the number of 2-week cobblestone areas remained equal to freshly isolated HPC. Fewer 2-week cobblestones and greater amounts of 5-week cobblestones were observed with IL-6 and IL-3. Expanded progenitors from all interleukin conditions were further matured into functional granulocytes.
Conclusion
IL-1β and IL-3 stimulated endothelium induces proliferation and differentiation of myeloid precursors, while IL-6 treatment induced a benefit of HPC survival.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-56
PMCID: PMC2570655  PMID: 18826654
21.  Host immunity in the protective response to vaccination with heat-killed Burkholderia mallei 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:55.
Background
We performed initial cell, cytokine and complement depletion studies to investigate the possible role of these effectors in response to vaccination with heat-killed Burkholderia mallei in a susceptible BALB/c mouse model of infection.
Results
While protection with heat-killed bacilli did not result in sterilizing immunity, limited protection was afforded against an otherwise lethal infection and provided insight into potential host protective mechanisms. Our results demonstrated that mice depleted of either B cells, TNF-α or IFN-γ exhibited decreased survival rates, indicating a role for these effectors in obtaining partial protection from a lethal challenge by the intraperitoneal route. Additionally, complement depletion had no effect on immunoglobulin production when compared to non-complement depleted controls infected intranasally.
Conclusion
The data provide a basis for future studies of protection via vaccination using either subunit or whole-organism vaccine preparations from lethal infection in the experimental BALB/c mouse model. The results of this study demonstrate participation of B220+ cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-γ and TNF-α in protection following HK vaccination.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-55
PMCID: PMC2562362  PMID: 18823549
22.  Upregulation of CD94 on CD8+T Cells in Anterior Chamber-Associated Immune Deviation 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:53.
Background
CD8+ regulatory T cells (Treg) have been considered to be involved in a model of ocular-induced tolerance, known as anterior chamber-associated immune deviation (ACAID). The phenotype and characteristics of CD8+Treg in ACAID remain only poorly understood. Recent studies have reported that the CD94-Qa-1 system is implicated in the induction of ACAID CD8+Treg, but the functions and characteristics of CD8+CD94+T cells remain unclear.
Results
Both mRNA and protein of CD94 and NKG2A were markedly up-regulated on splenic CD8+T cells of ACAID mice compared with controls. Flow cytometric analysis showed that very few CD8+CD94+T cells express granzyme B, perforin and Foxp3. CD8+CD94+T cells, but not CD8+CD94-T cells, magnetically isolated from the spleens of ACAID mice, produced large amounts of TGF-beta1 and exhibited suppressive activity in vitro. Neutralization of TGF-beta1 caused reversal of suppression mediated by CD8+CD94+T cells.
Conclusion
CD8+CD94+T cells from ACAID mice exhibited suppressive activity in association with enhanced expression of TGF-beta1, suggesting that CD8+Treg are mainly distributed in CD94+T cell subpopulations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-53
PMCID: PMC2566975  PMID: 18816417
23.  Direct contact of platelets and their released products exert different effects on human dendritic cell maturation 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:54.
Background
Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen presenting cells capable of inducing innate and adaptive immune responses. According to the stimulus and their maturation state, DCs induce immunogenic or tolerogenic responses. Platelets (PLTs), which are involved in haemostasis and inflammation, can also interact with DCs. In this study, we examined the effect of PLTs on DC maturation in vitro. Human monocyte-derived DCs were co-cultured for 2 days with homologous PLTs either in the same well or in 0.4 μm-pore size filter-separated compartments.
Results
Confocal microscopy showed the attachment of PLTs to DC membranes. The DC receptor involved in this interactions was found to be CD162. In addition, we observed that DCs co-cultured with PLTs in filter-separated compartments acquired a mature phenotype (high CD80, CD86, and intermediate CD83 expression; IL-12(p70) production; efficient stimulation of autologous CD4+ T cell proliferation), while DCs co-cultured with PLTs in the same compartment did not undergo phenotypic maturation, did not secrete IL-12(p70) or IL-1β, but instead induced moderate Th2-polarized T cell proliferation.
Conclusion
These data indicate that (i) PLTs secrete a soluble DC-activating factor that was demonstrated not to be soluble CD40-Ligand (CD154; as could have been expected from in vivo and previous in vitro work) but to be nucleotide, and (ii) that cell-to-cell contact did not induce DC maturation, possibly because nucleotide release by PLTs was prevented by direct contact with DCs. This work demonstrates that PLTs are active elements of the immune system that might play a role in balancing the ability of DCs to polarize T cell responses, therefore making them critical factors in transfusion processes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-54
PMCID: PMC2564901  PMID: 18817542
24.  Streptococcus pneumoniae stabilizes tumor necrosis factor α mRNA through a pathway dependent on p38 MAPK but independent of Toll-like receptors 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:52.
Background
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a human pathogenic bacteria and a major cause of severe invasive diseases, including pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis. Infections with S. pneumoniae evoke a strong inflammatory response, which plays a major role in the pathogenesis of pneumococcal disease.
Results
In this study, we have examined how S. pneumoniae affects expression of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, and the molecular mechanisms involved. Secretion of TNF-α was strongly induced by S. pneumoniae, which was able to stabilize TNF-α mRNA through a mechanism dependent on the viability of the bacteria as well as the adenylate uridylate-rich elements in the 3'untranslated region of TNF-α mRNA. The ability of S. pneumoniae to stabilize TNF-α mRNA was dependent on the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 whereas inhibition of Toll-like receptor signaling via MyD88 did not affect S. pneumoniae-induced mRNA stabilization. P38 was activated through a pathway involving the upstream kinase transforming growth factor-activated kinase 1 and MAPK kinase 3.
Conclusion
Thus, S. pneumoniae stabilizes TNF-α mRNA through a pathway dependent on p38 but independent of Toll-like receptors. Production of TNF-α may contribute significantly to the inflammatory response raised during pneumococcal infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-52
PMCID: PMC2551578  PMID: 18796140
25.  Elevated CXCL12 expression in the bone marrow of NOD mice is associated with altered T cell and stem cell trafficking and diabetes development 
BMC Immunology  2008;9:51.
Background
Type I diabetes (TID) is an autoimmune disease resulting from destruction of the insulin-producing β-cells by autoreactive T cells. Studies have shown that polymorphisms of chemokine CXCL12 gene are linked to TID in humans. In non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, which are predisposed to develop the disease, reduction of CXCL12 level leads to significant delays in the onset of diabetes. Despite these initial observations, however, how CXCL12 affects development of TID has not been fully investigated.
Results
We found that the level of CXCL12 transcript is significantly elevated in the bone marrow of NOD mice as compared to Balb/c and C57BL/6 mice. Correspondingly, naïve T cells, regulatory T cells and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) accumulate in the bone marrow of NOD mice. Treatment of NOD mice with AMD3100, an antagonist for CXCL12's receptor CXCR4, mobilizes T cells and HSC from the bone marrow to the periphery, concomitantly inhibits insulitis and delays the onset of diabetes.
Conclusion
These results suggest that the elevated CXCL12 expression promotes TID in NOD mice by altering T cell and hematopoietic stem cell trafficking. The findings highlight the potential usefulness of AMD3100 to treat or prevent TID in humans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-9-51
PMCID: PMC2556327  PMID: 18793419

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