Review

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii is an incredibly successful parasite owing in part to its ability to persist within cells for the life of the host. Remarkably, at least 350 host species of T. gondii have been described to date, and it is estimated that 30% of the global human population is chronically infected. The importance of T. gondii in human health was made clear with the first reports of congenital toxoplasmosis in the 1940s. However, the AIDS crisis in the 1980s revealed the prevalence of chronic infection, as patients presented with reactivated chronic toxoplasmosis, underscoring the importance of an intact immune system for parasite control. In the last 40 years, there has been tremendous progress toward understanding the biology of T. gondii infection using rodent models, human cell experimental systems, and clinical data. However, there are still major holes in our understanding of T. gondii biology, including the genes controlling parasite development, the mechanisms of cell-intrinsic immunity to T. gondii in the brain and muscle, and the long-term effects of infection on host homeostasis. The need to better understand the biology of chronic infection is underscored by the recent rise in ocular disease associated with emerging haplotypes of T. gondii and our lack of effective treatments to sterilize chronic infection. This Review discusses the cell types and molecular mediators, both host and parasite, that facilitate persistent T. gondii infection. We highlight the consequences of chronic infection for tissue-specific pathology and identify open questions in this area of host-Toxoplasma interactions.

Authors

Xiao-Yu Zhao, Sarah E. Ewald

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Abstract

Pediatric cancers, particularly high-risk solid tumors, urgently need effective and specific therapies. Their outlook has not appreciably improved in decades. Immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors offer much promise, but most are only approved for use in adults. Though several hundred clinical trials have tested immune-based approaches in childhood cancers, few have been guided by biomarkers or clinical-grade assays developed to predict patient response and, ultimately, to help select those most likely to benefit. There is extensive evidence in adults to show that immune profiling has substantial predictive value, but few studies focus on childhood tumors, because of the relatively small disease population and restricted use of immune-based therapies. For instance, only one published study has retrospectively examined the immune profiles of pediatric brain tumors after immunotherapy. Furthermore, application and integration of advanced multiplex techniques has been extremely limited. Here, we review the current status of immune profiling of pediatric solid tumors, with emphasis on tumor types that represent enormous unmet clinical need, primarily in the context of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Translating optimized and informative immune profiling into standard practice and access to personalized combination therapy will be critical if childhood cancers are to be treated effectively and affordably.

Authors

Rachael L. Terry, Deborah Meyran, David S. Ziegler, Michelle Haber, Paul G. Ekert, Joseph A. Trapani, Paul J. Neeson

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Abstract

Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic yeast that is present worldwide and interacts with various organisms. In humans, it is responsible for cryptococcosis, a deadly invasive fungal infection that represents around 220,000 cases per year worldwide. Starting from the natural history of the disease in humans, there is accumulating evidence on the capacity of this organism to enter dormancy. In response to the harsh host environment, the yeast is able to adapt dramatically and escape the vigilance of the host’s immune cells to survive. Indeed, the yeast exposed to the host takes on pleiotropic phenotypes, enabling the generation of populations in heterogeneous states, including dormancy, to eventually survive at low metabolic cost and revive in favorable conditions. The concept of dormancy has been validated in C. neoformans from both epidemiological and genotyping data, and more recently from the biological point of view with the characterization of dormancy through the description of viable but nonculturable cells.

Authors

Alexandre Alanio

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Abstract

Muscular dystrophies are debilitating disorders that result in progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscle. Although the genetic mutations and clinical abnormalities of a variety of neuromuscular diseases are well known, no curative therapies have been developed to date. The advent of genome editing technology provides new opportunities to correct the underlying mutations responsible for many monogenic neuromuscular diseases. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, has been successfully corrected in mice, dogs, and human cells through CRISPR/Cas9 editing. In this Review, we focus on the potential for, and challenges of, correcting muscular dystrophies by editing disease-causing mutations at the genomic level. Ideally, because muscle tissues are extremely long-lived, CRISPR technology could offer a one-time treatment for muscular dystrophies by correcting the culprit genomic mutations and enabling normal expression of the repaired gene.

Authors

Francesco Chemello, Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Eric N. Olson

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Abstract

The critical role of suppressive myeloid cells in immune regulation has come to the forefront in cancer research, with myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) as a main oncology immunotherapeutic target. Recent improvement and standardization of criteria classifying tumor-induced MDSCs have led to unified descriptions and also promoted MDSC research in tuberculosis (TB) and AIDS. Despite convincing evidence on the induction of MDSCs by pathogen-derived molecules and inflammatory mediators in TB and AIDS, very little attention has been given to their therapeutic modulation or roles in vaccination in these diseases. Clinical manifestations in TB are consequences of complex host-pathogen interactions and are substantially affected by HIV infection. Here we summarize the current understanding and knowledge gaps regarding the role of MDSCs in HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (co)infections. We discuss key scientific priorities to enable application of this knowledge to the development of novel strategies to improve vaccine efficacy and/or implementation of enhanced treatment approaches. Building on recent findings and potential for cross-fertilization between oncology and infection biology, we highlight current challenges and untapped opportunities for translating new advances in MDSC research into clinical applications for TB and AIDS.

Authors

Anca Dorhoi, Leigh A. Kotzé, Jay A. Berzofsky, Yongjun Sui, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, Ankita Garg, Richard Hafner, Shabaana A. Khader, Ulrich E. Schaible, Stefan H.E. Kaufmann, Gerhard Walzl, Manfred B. Lutz, Robert N. Mahon, Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg, William Bishai, Nelita du Plessis

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Abstract

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of disability. Most strokes are caused by occlusion of a major cerebral artery, and substantial advances have been made in elucidating how ischemia damages the brain. In particular, increasing evidence points to a double-edged role of the immune system in stroke pathophysiology. In the acute phase, innate immune cells invade brain and meninges and contribute to ischemic damage, but may also be protective. At the same time, danger signals released into the circulation by damaged brain cells lead to activation of systemic immunity, followed by profound immunodepression that promotes life-threatening infections. In the chronic phase, antigen presentation initiates an adaptive immune response targeted to the brain, which may underlie neuropsychiatric sequelae, a considerable cause of poststroke morbidity. Here, we briefly review these pathogenic processes and assess the potential therapeutic value of targeting immunity in human stroke.

Authors

Costantino Iadecola, Marion S. Buckwalter, Josef Anrather

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Abstract

Herpesviruses infect virtually all humans and establish lifelong latency and reactivate to infect other humans. Latency requires multiple functions: maintaining the herpesvirus genome in the nuclei of cells; partitioning the viral genome to daughter cells in dividing cells; avoiding recognition by the immune system by limiting protein expression; producing noncoding viral RNAs (including microRNAs) to suppress lytic gene expression or regulate cellular protein expression that could otherwise eliminate virus-infected cells; modulating the epigenetic state of the viral genome to regulate viral gene expression; and reactivating to infect other hosts. Licensed antivirals inhibit virus replication, but do not affect latency. Understanding of the mechanisms of latency is leading to novel approaches to destroy latently infected cells or inhibit reactivation from latency.

Authors

Jeffrey I. Cohen

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Abstract

The renaissance of complement diagnostics and therapeutics has introduced precision medicine into a widened field of complement-mediated diseases. In particular, complement-mediated diseases (or complementopathies) with ongoing or published clinical trials of complement inhibitors include paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, cold agglutinin disease, hemolytic uremic syndrome, nephropathies, HELLP syndrome, transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and neuromyelitis optica. Recognizing that this field is rapidly expanding, we aim to provide a state-of-the-art review of (a) current understanding of complement biology for the clinician, (b) novel insights into complement with potential applicability to clinical practice, (c) complement in disease across various disciplines (hematology, nephrology, obstetrics, transplantation, rheumatology, and neurology), and (d) the potential future of precision medicine. Better understanding of complement diagnostics and therapeutics will not only facilitate physicians treating patients in clinical practice but also provide the basis for future research toward precision medicine in this field.

Authors

Eleni Gavriilaki, Robert A. Brodsky

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Abstract

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has spurred a global health crisis. To date, there are no proven options for prophylaxis for those who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, nor therapy for those who develop COVID-19. Immune (i.e. “convalescent”) plasma refers to plasma that is collected from individuals, following resolution of infection and development of antibodies. Passive antibody administration through transfusion of convalescent plasma may offer the only short-term strategy to confer immediate immunity to susceptible individuals. There are numerous examples, where convalescent plasma has been used successfully as post-exposure prophylaxis and/or treatment of infectious diseases, including other outbreaks of coronaviruses (e.g., SARS-1, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS]). Convalescent plasma has also been used in the COVID-19 pandemic; limited data from China suggest clinical benefit, including radiological resolution, reduction in viral loads and improved survival. Globally, blood centers have robust infrastructure to undertake collections and construct inventories of convalescent plasma to meet the growing demand. Nonetheless, there are nuanced challenges, both regulatory and logistical, spanning donor eligibility, donor recruitment, collections and transfusion itself. Data from rigorously controlled clinical trials of convalescent plasma are also few, underscoring the need to evaluate its use objectively for a range of indications (e.g., prevention vs treatment) and patient populations (e.g., age, comorbid disease). We provide an overview of convalescent plasma, from evidence of benefit, regulatory considerations, logistical work flow and proposed clinical trials, as scale up is brought underway to mobilize this critical resource.

Authors

Evan M. Bloch, Shmuel Shoham, Arturo Casadevall, Bruce S. Sachais, Beth Shaz, Jeffrey L. Winters, Camille van Buskirk, Brenda J. Grossman, Michael Joyner, Jeffrey P. Henderson, Andrew Pekosz, Bryan Lau, Amy Wesolowski, Louis Katz, Hua Shan, Paul G. Auwaerter, David Thomas, David J. Sullivan, Nigel Paneth, Eric Gehrie, Steven Spitalnik, Eldad Hod, Lewis Pollack, Wayne T. Nicholson, Liise-anne Pirofski, Jeffrey A. Bailey, Aaron A.R. Tobian

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Abstract

Regenerative pain medicine, which seeks to harness the body’s own reparative capacity, is rapidly emerging as a field within pain medicine and orthopedics. It is increasingly appreciated that common analgesic mechanisms for these treatments depend on neuroimmune modulation. In this Review, we discuss recent progress in mechanistic understanding of nociceptive sensitization in chronic pain with a focus on neuroimmune modulation. We also examine the spectrum of regenerative outcomes, including preclinical and clinical outcomes. We further distinguish the analgesic mechanisms of regenerative therapies from those of cellular replacement, creating a conceptual and mechanistic framework to evaluate future research on regenerative medicine.

Authors

Thomas Buchheit, Yul Huh, William Maixner, Jianguo Cheng, Ru-Rong Ji

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