Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with cutaneous hyperreactivity to environmental triggers and is often the first step in the atopic march that results in asthma and allergic rhinitis. The clinical phenotype that characterizes atopic dermatitis is the product of interactions between susceptibility genes, the environment, defective skin barrier function, and immunologic responses. This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of the pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis and the implications for new management strategies.
Langerhans cells (LCs) represent a unique DC subset populating the outermost body surface, i.e., the epidermis. Although CD1a and langerin (CD207) are used as specific markers to distinguish LCs from other DC subsets, their immunological functions have remained mostly unknown. A new paper (see the related article beginning on page 701) demonstrates that LCs utilize these markers to induce cellular immune responses to Mycobacterium leprae: CD1a mediates the presentation of nonpeptide antigens to T cells, while langerin facilitates uptake of microbial fragments and perhaps their delivery to a specialized subcellular compartment.
When facing an immune response, viruses can either attempt to elude them or confront them. A new report demonstrates that a lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) strain can suppress immune responses by targeting both development and activation of DCs. Ironically, type I IFN released in response to LCMV infection contributes to the blockade of DC development. The discovery of these immunosuppressive mechanisms provides new perspectives for the therapy of chronic infections associated with immunosuppression.
Computer simulations are potentially effective approaches to unraveling the causes of lethal heart rhythm disorders. In this issue of the JCI, Xie et al. have embedded a well-characterized dynamic mechanism for arrhythmia development in an anatomically realistic computer model of the heart. Their demonstration that this simple mechanism governs the behavior of the complex model may provide a new target for strategies to prevent sudden death.
Despite the initial excitement over cancer vaccines, the clinical effectiveness of immunotherapy has been disappointing. The suppressive milieu present within established tumors inhibits effective immune responses, although new strategies are emerging to manipulate the local tumor microenvironment and shift the balance back to a proinflammatory environment, promote DC activation, and enhance tumor immunity .
Vascular spasm is a poorly understood but critical biomedical process because it can acutely reduce blood supply and tissue oxygenation. Cardiomyopathy in mice lacking γ-sarcoglycan or δ-sarcoglycan is characterized by focal damage. In the heart, sarcoglycan gene mutations produce regional defects in membrane permeability and focal degeneration, and it was hypothesized that vascular spasm was responsible for this focal necrosis. Supporting this notion, vascular spasm was noted in coronary arteries, and disruption of the sarcoglycan complex was observed in vascular smooth muscle providing a molecular mechanism for spasm. Using a transgene rescue strategy in the background of sarcoglycan-null mice, we replaced cardiomyocyte sarcoglycan expression. Cardiomyocyte-specific sarcoglycan expression was sufficient to correct cardiac focal degeneration. Intriguingly, successful restoration of the cardiomyocyte sarcoglycan complex also eliminated coronary artery vascular spasm, while restoration of smooth muscle sarcoglycan in the background of sarcoglycan-null alleles did not. This mechanism, whereby tissue damage leads to vascular spasm, can be partially corrected by NO synthase inhibitors. Therefore, we propose that cytokine release from damaged cardiomyocytes can feed back to produce vascular spasm. Moreover, vascular spasm feeds forward to produce additional cardiac damage.
The mechanisms that lead to reticulin fibrosis of bone marrow (BM) in hairy cell leukemia (HCL) are not fully understood. We therefore investigated the involvement of TGF-β1, a potent fibrogenic cytokine, in this process. Immunoassays revealed that TGF-β1 is present at higher concentrations in BM, serum, and plasma of HCL patients in comparison with healthy donors (P < 0.001). RT-PCR and immunofluorescence studies showed that TGF-β1 is overexpressed at the mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood, spleen, and BM mononuclear cells and that hairy cells (HCs) are the main source of TGF-β1. Active TGF-β1 correlated significantly with grades of BM fibrosis, infiltration with HCs, and serum procollagen type III aminoterminal propeptide (PIIINP). Ex vivo studies demonstrated that TGF-β1 significantly enhances the production and deposition of reticulin and collagen fibers by BM fibroblasts. In addition, BM plasma of HCL patients increased the synthesis of type I and type III procollagens, the main components of reticulin fibers, at the mRNA and protein levels. This fibrogenic activity of BM plasma was abolished by neutralizing anti–TGF-β1 antibodies. These results show, for the first time to our knowledge, that TGF-β1 is highly expressed in HCs and is directly involved in the pathogenesis of BM reticulin fibrosis in HCL.
In ventricular fibrillation (VF), the principal cause of sudden cardiac death, waves of electrical excitation break up into turbulent and incoherent fragments. The causes of this breakup have been intensely debated. Breakup can be caused by fixed anatomical properties of the tissue, such as the biventricular geometry and the inherent anisotropy of cardiac conduction. However, wavebreak can also be caused purely by instabilities in wave conduction that arise from ion channel dynamics, which represent potential targets for drug action. To study the interaction between these two wave-breaking mechanisms, we used a physiologically based mathematical model of the ventricular cell, together with a realistic three-dimensional computer model of cardiac anatomy, including the distribution of fiber angles throughout the myocardium. We find that dynamical instabilities remain a major cause of the wavebreak that drives VF, even in an anatomically realistic heart. With cell physiology in its usual operating regime, dynamics and anatomical features interact to promote wavebreak and VF. However, if dynamical instability is reduced, for example by modeling of certain pharmacologic interventions, electrical waves do not break up into fibrillation, despite anatomical complexity. Thus, interventions that promote dynamical wave stability show promise as an antifibrillatory strategy in this more realistic setting.
A number of studies have suggested B7-H1, a B7 family member, inhibits T cell responses. Therefore, its expression on nonlymphoid tissues has been proposed to prevent T cell–mediated tissue destruction. To test this hypothesis, we generated transgenic mice that expressed B7-H1 on pancreatic islet β cells. Surprisingly, we observed accelerated rejection of transplanted allogeneic B7-H1–expressing islet β cells. Furthermore, transgenic B7-H1 expression broke immune tolerance, as some of the mice spontaneously developed T cell–dependent autoimmune diabetes. In addition, B7-H1 expression increased CD8+ T cell proliferation and promoted autoimmunity induction in a T cell adoptive transfer model of diabetes. Consistent with these findings, B7-H1.Ig fusion protein augmented naive T cell priming both in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate that B7-H1 can provide positive costimulation for naive T cells to promote allograft rejection and autoimmune disease pathogenesis.
Langerhans cells (LCs) constitute a subset of DCs that initiate immune responses in skin. Using leprosy as a model, we investigated whether expression of CD1a and langerin, an LC-specific C-type lectin, imparts a specific functional role to LCs. LC-like DCs and freshly isolated epidermal LCs presented nonpeptide antigens of Mycobacterium leprae to T cell clones derived from a leprosy patient in a CD1a-restricted and langerin-dependent manner. LC-like DCs were more efficient at CD1a-restricted antigen presentation than monocyte-derived DCs. LCs in leprosy lesions coexpress CD1a and langerin, placing LCs in position to efficiently present a subset of antigens to T cells as part of the host response to human infectious disease.
While much experimental data shows that vaccination efficiently inhibits a subsequent challenge by a transplantable tumor, its ability to inhibit the progress of autochthonous preneoplastic lesions is virtually unknown. In this article, we show that a combined DNA and cell vaccine persistently inhibits such lesions in a murine HER-2/neu mammary carcinogenesis model. At 10 weeks of age, all of the ten mammary gland samples from HER-2/neu–transgenic mice displayed foci of hyperplasia that progressed to invasive tumors. Vaccination with plasmids coding for the transmembrane and extracellular domain of rat p185neu followed by a boost with rp185neu+ allogeneic cells secreting IFN-γ kept 48% of mice tumor free. At 22 weeks, their mammary glands were indistinguishable from those of 10-week-old untreated mice. Furthermore, the transcription patterns of the two sets of glands coincided. Of the 12,000 genes analyzed, 17 were differentially expressed and related to the antibody response. The use of B cell knockout mice as well as the concordance of morphologic and gene expression data demonstrated that the Ab response is the main mechanism facilitating tumor growth arrest. This finding suggests that a new way can be found to secure the immunologic control of the progression of HER-2/neu preneoplastic lesions.
The role of TGF-β/bone morphogenetic protein signaling in the chondrogenic differentiation of human synovial fibroblasts (SFs) was examined with the adenovirus vector–mediated gene transduction system. Expression of constitutively active activin receptor–like kinase 3 (ALK3CA) induced chondrocyte-specific gene expression in SFs cultured in pellets or in SF pellets transplanted into nude mice, in which both the Smad and p38 pathways are essential. To analyze downstream cascades of ALK3 signaling, we utilized adenovirus vectors carrying either Smad1 to stimulate Smad pathways or constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6CA) to activate p38 pathways. Smad1 expression had a synergistic effect on ALK3CA, while activation of p38 MAP kinase pathways alone by transduction of MKK6CA accelerated terminal chondrocytic differentiation, leading to type X collagen expression and enhanced mineralization. Overexpression of Smad1 prevented MKK6CA-induced type X collagen expression and maintained type II collagen expression. In a mouse model of osteoarthritis, activated p38 expression as well as type X collagen staining was detected in osteochondrophytes and marginal synovial cells. These results suggest that SFs can be differentiated into chondrocytes via ALK3 activation and that stimulating Smad pathways and controlling p38 activation at the proper level can be a good therapeutic strategy for maintaining the healthy joint homeostasis and treating degenerative joint disorders.
Ablation or inhibition of phospholamban (PLN) has favorable effects in several genetic murine dilated cardiomyopathies, and we showed previously that a pseudophosphorylated form of PLN mutant (S16EPLN) successfully prevented progressive heart failure in cardiomyopathic hamsters. In this study, the effects of PLN inhibition were examined in rats with heart failure after myocardial infarction (MI), a model of acquired disease. S16EPLN was delivered into failing hearts 5 weeks after MI by transcoronary gene transfer using a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector. In treated (MI-S16EPLN, n = 16) and control (MI-saline, n = 18) groups, infarct sizes were closely matched and the left ventricle was similarly depressed and dilated before gene transfer. At 2 and 6 months after gene transfer, MI-S16EPLN rats showed an increase in left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction and a much smaller rise in LV end-diastolic volume, compared with progressive deterioration of LV size and function in MI-saline rats. Hemodynamic measurements at 6 months showed lower LV end-diastolic pressures, with enhanced LV function (contractility and relaxation), lowered LV mass and myocyte size, and less fibrosis in MI-S16EPLN rats. Thus, PLN inhibition by in vivo rAAV gene transfer is an effective strategy for the chronic treatment of an acquired form of established heart failure.
DCs play a pivotal role in bringing forth innate and adaptive immune responses. Viruses can specifically target DCs, rendering them ineffective in stimulating T cells, which can ultimately lead to immunosuppression. In the present study we have identified several potential mechanisms by which lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) induces immunosuppression in its natural murine host. The immunosuppressive LCMV variant clone 13 (Cl 13) infects DCs and interferes with their maturation and antigen-presenting capacity as evidenced by a significant reduction in the surface expression of MHC class I, MHC class II, CD40, CD80, and CD86 molecules. Additionally, Cl 13 infects hematopoietic progenitor cells both in vivo and in vitro, impairing their development. One mechanism by which hematopoietic progenitors are developmentally impaired is through the Cl 13–induced production of IFN-α and IFN-β (IFN-α/β). Mice deficient in the receptor for IFN-α/β show a normal differentiation of progenitors into DCs despite viral infection. Thus, a virus can evolve a strategy to boost its survival by preventing the maturation of DCs from infected progenitor cells and by reducing the expression of antigen-presenting and costimulatory molecules on developed DCs.
IκB proteins play an important role in regulating NF-κB induction following a diverse range of environmental injuries. Studies evaluating IκBβ knock-in mice (AKBI), in which the IκBα gene is replaced by the IκBβ cDNA, have uncovered divergent properties of IκBα and IκBβ that influence their ability to activate hepatic NF-κB and subsequent downstream proinflammatory processes in a stimulus-specific manner. While AKBI mice demonstrated identical levels of hepatic NF-κB activation in response to endotoxin, a significantly reduced level of hepatic NF-κB activation was observed in AKBI mice after liver ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. This reduced level of NF-κB activation in AKBI mice after liver I/R also correlated with decreased induction of serum TNF-α, reduced hepatic inflammation, and increased survival. In contrast, no differences in any of these indicators were observed between AKBI mice and WT littermates after a lethal injection of LPS. Molecular studies suggest that the specificity of IκBα, but not IκBβ, to properly regulate NF-κB induction during the acute phase of I/R injury is due to injury context–specific activation of c-Src and subsequent tyrosine phosphorylation of IκBα on Tyr42. These results demonstrate that IκBα and IκBβ play unique injury context–specific roles in activating NF-κB–mediated proinflammatory responses and suggest that strategies aimed at inhibiting IκBα gene expression may be of potential therapeutic benefit in hepatic I/R injury.
Insulin resistance in skeletal muscle plays a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes and may be causally associated with increases in intramuscular fatty acid metabolites. Fatty acid transport protein 1 (FATP1) is an acyl-CoA synthetase highly expressed in skeletal muscle and modulates fatty acid uptake and metabolism by converting fatty acids into fatty acyl-CoA. To investigate the role of FATP1 in glucose homeostasis and in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, we examined the effect of acute lipid infusion or chronic high-fat feeding on insulin action in FATP1 KO mice. Whole-body adiposity, adipose tissue expression of adiponectin, intramuscular fatty acid metabolites, and insulin sensitivity were not altered in FATP1 KO mice fed a regular chow diet. In contrast, FATP1 deletion protected the KO mice from fat-induced insulin resistance and intramuscular accumulation of fatty acyl-CoA without alteration in whole-body adiposity. These findings demonstrate an important role of intramuscular fatty acid metabolites in causing insulin resistance and suggest that FATP1 may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Accelerated atherosclerosis is a major cause of morbidity and death in insulin-resistant states such as obesity and the metabolic syndrome, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We show that macrophages from obese (ob/ob) mice have increased binding and uptake of oxidized LDL, in part due to a post-transcriptional increase in CD36 protein. Macrophages from ob/ob mice are also insulin resistant, as shown by reduced expression and signaling of insulin receptors. Three lines of evidence indicate that the increase in CD36 is caused by defective insulin signaling: (a) Treatment of wild-type macrophages with LY294002, an inhibitor of insulin signaling via PI3K, results in an increase in CD36; (b) insulin receptor knockout macrophages show a post-transcriptional increase in CD36 protein; and (c) administration of thiazolidinediones to intact ob/ob mice and ob/ob, LDL receptor–deficient mice results in a reversal of macrophage insulin receptor defects and decreases CD36 protein. The last finding contrasts with the increase in CD36 that results from treatment of macrophages with these drugs ex vivo. The results suggest that defective macrophage insulin signaling predisposes to foam cell formation and atherosclerosis in insulin-resistant states and that this is reversed in vivo by treatment with PPAR-γ activators.
Recent reports of tumor regression following delivery of autologous tumor antigen–pulsed DCs suggest that defective antigen presentation may play a key role in tumor escape. Here we show in two different murine tumor models, CT26 (colon adenocarcinoma) and B16 (melanoma), that the number and activation state of intratumoral DCs are critical factors in the host response to tumors. We used CCL20/macrophage inflammatory protein-3α (MIP-3α) chemokine to increase the number of tumoral DCs and intratumoral injections of CG-rich motifs (CpGs) to activate such cells. Expression of CCL20 in the tumor site attracted large numbers of circulating DCs into the tumor mass and, in the case of CT26 tumors, led to complete tumor regression. Intratumoral CpG injections, in addition to CCL20, were required to induce therapeutic immunity against B16 tumors. In this model CpG overcame tumor-mediated inhibition of DC activation and enabled tumoral DCs to cross-present tumor antigens to naive CD8 T cells. CpG activation of tumoral DCs alone was not sufficient to induce tumor regression in either tumor model, nor was systemic delivery of the DC growth factor, Flt3 ligand, which dramatically increased the number of circulating DCs but not the number of tumoral DCs. These results indicate that the number of tumoral DCs as well as the tumor milieu determines the ability of tumor-bearing hosts to mount an effective antitumor immune response. Our results also suggest that DCs can be manipulated in vivo without delivery of defined tumor antigens to induce a specific T cell–mediated antitumor response and provide the basis for the use of chemokines in DC-targeted clinical strategies.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation