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The chemokine receptor, CXCR4, is involved in cancer growth, invasion, and metastasis. Several promising CXCR4 antagonists have been shown to halt tumor metastasis in preclinical studies, and clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of these agents in patients with cancer are ongoing. However, the impact of targeting CXCR4 specifically on immune cells is not clear. Here, we demonstrate that genetic deletion of CXCR4 in myeloid cells (CXCR4) enhances the antitumor immune response, resulting in significantly reduced melanoma tumor growth. Moreover, CXCR4 mice exhibited slowed tumor progression compared with CXCR4 mice in an inducible melanocyte mouse model. The percentage of Fas ligand (FasL)-expressing myeloid cells was reduced in CXCR4 mice as compared with myeloid cells from CXCR4 mice. In contrast, there was an increased percentage of natural killer (NK) cells expressing FasL in tumors growing in CXCR4 mice. NK cells from CXCR4 mice also exhibited increased tumor cell killing capacity , based on clearance of NK-sensitive Yac-1 cells. NK cell-mediated killing of Yac-1 cells occurred in a FasL-dependent manner, which was partially dependent upon the presence of CXCR4 neutrophils. Furthermore, enhanced NK cell activity in CXCR4 mice was also associated with increased production of IL18 by specific leukocyte subpopulations. These data suggest that CXCR4-mediated signals from myeloid cells suppress NK cell-mediated tumor surveillance and thereby enhance tumor growth. Systemic delivery of a peptide antagonist of CXCR4 to tumor-bearing CXCR4 mice resulted in enhanced NK-cell activation and reduced tumor growth, supporting potential clinical implications for CXCR4 antagonism in some cancers. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
RATIONALE - Lung natural killer cells (NKs) kill a greater percentage of autologous lung parenchymal cells in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than in nonobstructed smokers. To become cytotoxic, NKs require priming, typically by dendritic cells (DCs), but whether priming occurs in the lungs in COPD is unknown.
METHODS - We used lung tissue and in some cases peripheral blood from patients undergoing clinically indicated resections to determine in vitro killing of CD326 lung epithelial cells by isolated lung CD56 NKs. We also measured the cytotoxicity of unprimed blood NKs after preincubation with lung DCs. To investigate mechanisms of DC-mediated priming, we used murine models of COPD induced by cigarette smoke (CS) exposure or by polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) deficiency, and blocked IL-15Rα (IL-15 receptor α subunit) trans-presentation by genetic and antibody approaches.
RESULTS - Human lung NKs killed isolated autologous lung epithelial cells; cytotoxicity was increased (P = 0.0001) in COPD, relative to smokers without obstruction. Similarly, increased lung NK cytotoxicity compared with control subjects was observed in CS-exposed mice and pIgR mice. Blood NKs both from smokers without obstruction and subjects with COPD showed minimal epithelial cell killing, but in COPD, preincubation with lung DCs increased cytotoxicity. NKs were primed by CS-exposed murine DCs in vitro and in vivo. Inhibiting IL-15Rα trans-presentation eliminated NK priming both by murine CS-exposed DCs and by lung DCs from subjects with COPD.
CONCLUSIONS - Heightened NK cytotoxicity against lung epithelial cells in COPD results primarily from lung DC-mediated priming via IL-15 trans-presentation on IL-15Rα. Future studies are required to test whether increased NK cytotoxicity contributes to COPD pathogenesis.
Disruption of the non-classical Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Ib molecule Qa-1 impairs CD8 Treg and natural killer (NK) cell function and promotes a lupus-like autoimmune disease. This immune perturbation would be expected to enhance anti-transplant responses and impair tolerance induction, but the effect of Qa-1 deficiency on the transplant response has not been previously reported. Qa-1 deficiency enhanced CD4 TFH and germinal center (GC) B cell numbers in naïve mice and hastened islet allograft rejection. Despite enhanced immunity in B6.Qa-1 mice, these mice did not generate an excessive primary CD4 TFH cell response nor an enhanced alloantibody reaction. Both CD8 Tregs and NK cells, which often regulate other cells through host Qa-1 expression, were targets of anti-CD45RB therapy that had not been previously recognized. However, B6.Qa-1 mice remained susceptible to anti-CD45RB mediated suppression of the alloantibody response and transplant tolerance induction to mismatched islet allografts. Overall, despite enhanced immunity as demonstrated by augmented CD4 TFH/GC B cell numbers and hastened islet allograft rejection in naïve 12-week old Qa-1 deficient mice, the CD8 Treg/NK cell restriction element Qa-1 does not regulate the primary cellular or humoral alloresponse and is not required for long-term transplant tolerance.
Adjuvants enhance immunity elicited by vaccines through mechanisms that are poorly understood. Using a systems biology approach, we investigated temporal protein expression changes in five primary human immune cell populations: neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, T cells, and B cells after administration of either an Adjuvant System 03 adjuvanted or unadjuvanted split-virus H5N1 influenza vaccine. Monocytes demonstrated the strongest differential signal between vaccine groups. On day 3 post-vaccination, several antigen presentation-related pathways, including MHC class I-mediated antigen processing and presentation, were enriched in monocytes and neutrophils and expression of HLA class I proteins was increased in the Adjuvant System 03 group. We identified several protein families whose proteomic responses predicted seroprotective antibody responses (>1:40 hemagglutination inhibition titer), including inflammation and oxidative stress proteins at day 1 as well as immunoproteasome subunit (PSME1 and PSME2) and HLA class I proteins at day 3 in monocytes. While comparison between temporal proteomic and transcriptomic results showed little overlap overall, enrichment of the MHC class I antigen processing and presentation pathway in monocytes and neutrophils was confirmed by both approaches.
© 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
BACKGROUND - Vaccine development for influenza A/H5N1 is an important public health priority, but H5N1 vaccines are less immunogenic than seasonal influenza vaccines. Adjuvant System 03 (AS03) markedly enhances immune responses to H5N1 vaccine antigens, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are incompletely understood.
OBJECTIVE AND METHODS - We compared the safety (primary endpoint), immunogenicity (secondary), gene expression (tertiary) and cytokine responses (exploratory) between AS03-adjuvanted and unadjuvanted inactivated split-virus H5N1 influenza vaccines. In a double-blinded clinical trial, we randomized twenty adults aged 18-49 to receive two doses of either AS03-adjuvanted (n = 10) or unadjuvanted (n = 10) H5N1 vaccine 28 days apart. We used a systems biology approach to characterize and correlate changes in serum cytokines, antibody titers, and gene expression levels in six immune cell types at 1, 3, 7, and 28 days after the first vaccination.
RESULTS - Both vaccines were well-tolerated. Nine of 10 subjects in the adjuvanted group and 0/10 in the unadjuvanted group exhibited seroprotection (hemagglutination inhibition antibody titer > 1:40) at day 56. Within 24 hours of AS03-adjuvanted vaccination, increased serum levels of IL-6 and IP-10 were noted. Interferon signaling and antigen processing and presentation-related gene responses were induced in dendritic cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. Upregulation of MHC class II antigen presentation-related genes was seen in neutrophils. Three days after AS03-adjuvanted vaccine, upregulation of genes involved in cell cycle and division was detected in NK cells and correlated with serum levels of IP-10. Early upregulation of interferon signaling-related genes was also found to predict seroprotection 56 days after first vaccination.
CONCLUSIONS - Using this cell-based systems approach, novel mechanisms of action for AS03-adjuvanted pandemic influenza vaccination were observed.
TRIAL REGISTRATION - ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01573312.
Interleukin 15 is essential for the development and differentiation of NK and memory CD8 (mCD8) T cells. Our laboratory previously showed that NK and CD8 T lymphocytes facilitate the pathobiology of septic shock. However, factors that regulate NK and CD8 T lymphocyte functions during sepsis are not well characterized. We hypothesized that IL-15 promotes the pathogenesis of sepsis by maintaining NK and mCD8 T cell integrity. To test our hypothesis, the pathogenesis of sepsis was assessed in IL-15-deficient (IL-15 knockout, KO) mice. IL-15 KO mice showed improved survival, attenuated hypothermia, and less proinflammatory cytokine production during septic shock caused by cecal ligation and puncture or endotoxin-induced shock. Treatment with IL-15 superagonist (IL-15 SA, IL-15/IL-15Rα complex) regenerated NK and mCD8 T cells and re-established mortality of IL-15 KO mice during septic shock. Preventing NK cell regeneration attenuated the restoration of mortality caused by IL-15 SA. If given immediately prior to septic challenge, IL-15-neutralizing IgG M96 failed to protect against septic shock. However, M96 caused NK cell depletion if given 4 d prior to septic challenge and conferred protection. IL-15 SA treatment amplified endotoxin shock, which was prevented by NK cell or IFN-γ depletion. IL-15 SA treatment also exacerbated septic shock caused by cecal ligation and puncture when given after the onset of sepsis. In conclusion, endogenous IL-15 does not directly augment the pathogenesis of sepsis but enables the development of septic shock by maintaining NK cell numbers and integrity. Exogenous IL-15 exacerbates the severity of sepsis by activating NK cells and facilitating IFN-γ production.
Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that recognize and lyse virally infected or transformed cells. This latter property is being pursued in clinics to treat leukemia with the hope that further breakthroughs in NK cell biology can extend treatments to other cancers. At issue is the ability to expand transferred NK cells and prolong their functionality within the context of a tumor. In terms of NK cell expansion and survival, we now report that Kruppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) is a key transcription factor that underpins both of these events. Excision of Klf2 using gene-targeted mouse models promotes spontaneous proliferation of immature NK cells in peripheral tissues, a phenotype that is replicated under ex vivo conditions. Moreover, KLF2 imprints a homeostatic migration pattern on mature NK cells that allows these cells to access IL-15-rich microenvironments. KLF2 accomplishes this feat within the mature NK cell lineage via regulation of a subset of homing receptors that respond to homeostatic ligands while leaving constitutively expressed receptors that recognize inflammatory cytokines unperturbed. Under steady-state conditions, KLF2-deficient NK cells alter their expression of homeostatic homing receptors and subsequently undergo apoptosis due to IL-15 starvation. This novel mechanism has implications regarding NK cell contraction following the termination of immune responses including the possibility that retention of an IL-15 transpresenting support system is key to extending NK cell activity in a tumor environment.
BACKGROUND - Severely burned patients are highly susceptible to opportunistic infections and sepsis, owing to the loss of the protective skin barrier and immunological dysfunction. Interleukin-15 (IL-15) belongs to the IL-2 family of common gamma chain cytokines and stimulates the proliferation and activation of T (specifically memory CD8), NK and NKT cells. It has been shown to preserve T cell function and improve survival during cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)-induced sepsis in mice. However, the therapeutic efficacy of IL-15 or IL-15 superagonist (SA) during infection after burn injury has not been evaluated. Moreover, very few, if any, studies have examined, in detail, the effect of burn injury and infection on the adaptive immune system. Thus, we examined the effect of burn and sepsis on adaptive immune cell populations and the effect of IL-15 SA treatment on the host response to infection.
METHODS - Mice were subjected to a 35% total body surface area burn, followed by wound infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In some experiments, IL-15 SA was administered after burn injury, but before infection. Leukocytes in spleen, liver and peritoneal cavity were characterized using flow cytometry. Bacterial clearance, organ injury and survival were also assessed.
RESULTS - Burn wound infection led to a significant decline in total white blood cell and lymphocyte counts and induced organ injury and sepsis. Burn injury caused decline in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the spleen, which was worsened by infection. IL-15 treatment inhibited this decline and significantly increased cell numbers and activation, as determined by CD69 expression, of CD4+, CD8+, B, NK and NKT cells in the spleen and liver after burn injury. However, IL-15 SA treatment failed to prevent burn wound sepsis-induced loss of CD4+, CD8+, B, NK and NKT cells and failed to improve bacterial clearance and survival.
CONCLUSION - Cutaneous burn injury and infection cause significant adaptive immune dysfunction. IL-15 SA does not augment host resistance to burn wound sepsis in mice despite inducing proliferation and activation of lymphocyte subsets.
Recovery from organ-specific autoimmune diseases largely relies on the mobilization of endogenous repair mechanisms and local factors that control them. Natural killer (NK) cells are swiftly mobilized to organs targeted by autoimmunity and typically undergo numerical contraction when inflammation wanes. We report the unexpected finding that NK cells are retained in the brain subventricular zone (SVZ) during the chronic phase of multiple sclerosis in humans and its animal model in mice. These NK cells were found preferentially in close proximity to SVZ neural stem cells (NSCs) that produce interleukin-15 and sustain functionally competent NK cells. Moreover, NK cells limited the reparative capacity of NSCs following brain inflammation. These findings reveal that reciprocal interactions between NSCs and NK cells regulate neurorepair.