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Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder which is caused by a mutation of the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Although the pathogenesis of HD has been associated with inflammatory responses, if and how the immune system contributes to the onset of HD is largely unknown. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a group of innate-like regulatory T lymphocytes that can rapidly produce various cytokines such as IFN and IL4 upon stimulation with the glycolipid -galactosylceramide (-GalCer). By employing both R6/2 Tg mice (murine HD model) and J18 KO mice (deficient in iNKT cells), we investigated whether alterations of iNKT cells affect the development of HD in R6/2 Tg mice. We found that J18 KO R6/2 Tg mice showed disease progression comparable to R6/2 Tg mice, indicating that the absence of iNKT cells did not have any significant effects on HD development. However, repeated activation of iNKT cells with -GalCer facilitated HD progression in R6/2 Tg mice, and this was associated with increased infiltration of iNKT cells in the brain. Taken together, our results demonstrate that repeated -GalCer treatment of R6/2 Tg mice accelerates HD progression, suggesting that immune activation can affect the severity of HD pathogenesis.
T cells producing IFNγ play a pathogenic role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). To investigate the functions of CD1d-dependent invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells in experimental colitis induced in Yeti mice with dysregulated expression of IFNγ, we generated iNKT cell-deficient Yeti/CD1d KO mice and compared colitis among WT, CD1d KO, Yeti, and Yeti/CD1d KO mice following DSS treatment. We found that deficiency of iNKT cells exacerbated colitis and disease pathogenesis was mainly mediated by NK1.1CD8 T cells. Furthermore, the protective effects of iNKT cells correlated with up-regulation of regulatory T cells. Taken together, our results have demonstrated that CD1d-dependent iNKT cells and CD1d-independent NK1.1CD8 T cells reciprocally regulate the development of intestinal inflammatory responses mediated by IFNγ-dysregulation. These findings also identify NK1.1CD8 T cells as novel target cells for the development of therapeutics for human IBD.
It has been shown that CD1d expression and glycolipid-reactive, CD1d-restricted NKT cells exacerbate the development of obesity and insulin resistance in mice. However, the relevant CD1d-expressing cells that influence the effects of NKT cells on the progression of obesity remain incompletely defined. In this study, we have demonstrated that 3T3-L1 adipocytes can present endogenous ligands to NKT cells, leading to IFN-γ production, which in turn, stimulated 3T3-L1 adipocytes to enhance expression of CD1d and CCL2, and decrease expression of adiponectin. Furthermore, adipocyte-specific CD1d deletion decreased the size of the visceral adipose tissue mass and enhanced insulin sensitivity in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Accordingly, NKT cells were less activated, IFN-γ production was significantly reduced, and levels of adiponectin were increased in these animals as compared with control mice on HFD. Importantly, macrophage recruitment into the adipose tissue of adipocyte-specific CD1d-deficient mice was significantly blunted. These findings indicate that interactions between NKT cells and CD1d-expressing adipocytes producing endogenous NKT cell ligands play a critical role in the induction of inflammation and functional modulation of adipose tissue that leads to obesity.
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.
The respiratory mucosa is a major site for pathogen invasion and, hence, a site requiring constant immune surveillance. The type I, semi-invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells are enriched within the lung vasculature. Despite optimal positioning, the role of NKT cells in respiratory infectious diseases remains poorly understood. Hence, we assessed their function in a murine model of pulmonary tularemia--because tularemia is a sepsis-like proinflammatory disease and NKT cells are known to control the cellular and humoral responses underlying sepsis. Here we show for the first time that respiratory infection with Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain resulted in rapid accumulation of NKT cells within the lung interstitium. Activated NKT cells produced interferon-γ and promoted both local and systemic proinflammatory responses. Consistent with these results, NKT cell-deficient mice showed reduced inflammatory cytokine and chemokine response yet they survived the infection better than their wild type counterparts. Strikingly, NKT cell-deficient mice had increased lymphocytic infiltration in the lungs that organized into tertiary lymphoid structures resembling induced bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT) at the peak of infection. Thus, NKT cell activation by F. tularensis infection hampers iBALT formation and promotes a systemic proinflammatory response, which exacerbates severe pulmonary tularemia-like disease in mice.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes demyelination of neurons in the central nervous system. Traditional therapies for MS have involved anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs with significant side effects that often only provide short-term relief. A more desirable outcome of immunotherapy would be to protect against disease before its clinical manifestation or to halt disease after its initiation. One attractive approach to accomplish this goal would be to restore tolerance by targeting immunoregulatory cell networks. Although much of the work in this area has focused on CD4(+) Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells, other studies have investigated natural killer T (NKT) cells, a subset of T cells that recognizes glycolipid antigens in the context of the CD1d glycoprotein. Studies with human MS patients have revealed alterations in the numbers and functions of NKT cells, which have been partially supported by studies with the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model of MS. Additional studies have shown that activation of NKT cells with synthetic lipid antigens can, at least under certain experimental conditions, protect mice against the development of MS-like disease. Although mechanisms of this protection remain to be fully investigated, current evidence suggests that it involves interactions with other immunoregulatory cell types such as regulatory T cells and immunosuppressive myeloid cells. These studies have provided a strong foundation for the rational design of NKT-cell-based immunotherapies for MS that induce tolerance while sparing overall immune function. Nevertheless, additional pre-clinical and clinical studies will be required to bring this goal to fruition.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Expression of molecules involved in lipid homeostasis such as the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLr) on antigen presenting cells (APCs) has been shown to enhance invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cell function. However, the contribution to iNKT cell activation by other lipoprotein receptors with shared structural and ligand binding properties to the LDLr has not been described. In this study, we investigated whether a structurally related receptor to the LDLr, known as LDL receptor-related protein (LRP), plays a role in iNKT cell activation. We found that, unlike the LDLr which is highly expressed on all immune cells, the LRP was preferentially expressed at high levels on F4/80+ macrophages (MΦ). We also show that CD169+ MΦs, known to present antigen to iNKT cells, exhibited increased expression of LRP compared to CD169- MΦs. To test the contribution of MΦ LRP to iNKT cell activation we used a mouse model of MΦ LRP conditional knockout (LRP-cKO). LRP-cKO MΦs pulsed with glycolipid alpha-galactosylceramide (αGC) elicited normal IL-2 secretion by iNKT hybridoma and in vivo challenge of LRP-cKO mice led to normal IFN-γ, but blunted IL-4 response in both serum and intracellular expression by iNKT cells. Flow cytometric analyses show similar levels of MHC class-I like molecule CD1d on LRP-cKO MΦs and normal glycolipid uptake. Survey of the iNKT cell compartment in LRP-cKO mice revealed intact numbers and percentages and no homeostatic disruption as evidenced by the absence of programmed death-1 and Ly-49 surface receptors. Mixed bone marrow chimeras showed that the inability iNKT cells to make IL-4 is cell extrinsic and can be rescued in the presence of wild type APCs. Collectively, these data demonstrate that, although MΦ LRP may not be necessary for IFN-γ responses, it can contribute to iNKT cell activation by enhancing early IL-4 secretion.
Autophagy plays a critical role in multiple aspects of the immune system, including the development and function of T lymphocytes. In mammalian cells, the class III PI3K vacuolar protein sorting (Vps)34 is thought to play a critical role in autophagy. However, recent studies have cast doubt on the role of Vps34 in autophagy, at least in certain cell types. To study the effects of Vps34 on autophagy in T lymphocytes, we generated mice that selectively lack Vps34 in the T cell lineage. Vps34 ablation in T cells caused profound defects in autophagic flux, resulting in accumulation of cellular organelles and apoptosis. These animals exhibited normal intrathymic development of conventional T cells, but they were profoundly impaired in the intrathymic development of invariant NKT cells. In peripheral organs, T cell-specific ablation of Vps34 had a profound impact on T cell homeostasis and function. Furthermore, aged animals developed an inflammatory wasting syndrome characterized by weight loss, intestinal inflammation, and anemia. Consistent with this phenotype, Vps34 was required for the peripheral maintenance and function of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. Collectively, our study reveals a critical role for Vps34 in autophagy and for the peripheral homeostasis and function of T lymphocytes.
Invariant natural killer T cells have a distinct developmental pathway from conventional αβ T cells. Here we demonstrate that the transcriptional repressor NKAP is required for invariant natural killer T cell but not conventional T cell development. In CD4-cre NKAP conditional knockout mice, invariant natural killer T cell development is blocked at the double-positive stage. This cell-intrinsic block is not due to decreased survival or failure to rearrange the invariant Vα14-Jα18 T cell receptor-α chain, but is rescued by overexpression of a rec-Vα14-Jα18 transgene at the double-positive stage, thus defining a role for NKAP in selection into the invariant natural killer T cell lineage. Importantly, deletion of the NKAP-associated protein histone deacetylase 3 causes a similar block in the invariant natural killer T cell development, indicating that NKAP and histone deacetylase 3 functionally interact to control invariant natural killer T cell development.