Augmentation of immunogenicity can be achieved by particulate delivery of an antigen and by its co-administration with an adjuvant. However, many adjuvants initiate strong systemic inflammatory reactions in vivo, leading to potential adverse events and safety concerns. We have developed a synthetic vaccine particle (SVP) technology that enables co-encapsulation of antigen with potent adjuvants. We demonstrate that co-delivery of an antigen with a TLR7/8 or TLR9 agonist in synthetic polymer nanoparticles results in a strong augmentation of humoral and cellular immune responses with minimal systemic production of inflammatory cytokines. In contrast, antigen encapsulated into nanoparticles and admixed with free TLR7/8 agonist leads to lower immunogenicity and rapid induction of high levels of inflammatory cytokines in the serum (e.g., TNF-a and IL-6 levels are 50- to 200-fold higher upon injection of free resiquimod (R848) than of nanoparticle-encapsulated R848). Conversely, local immune stimulation as evidenced by cellular infiltration of draining lymph nodes and by intranodal cytokine production was more pronounced and persisted longer when SVP-encapsulated TLR agonists were used. The strong local immune activation achieved using a modular self-assembling nanoparticle platform markedly enhanced immunogenicity and was equally effective whether antigen and adjuvant were co-encapsulated in a single nanoparticle formulation or co-delivered in two separate nanoparticles. Moreover, particle encapsulation enabled the utilization of CpG oligonucleotides with the natural phosphodiester backbone, which are otherwise rapidly hydrolyzed by nucleases in vivo. The use of SVP may enable clinical use of potent TLR agonists as vaccine adjuvants for indications where cellular immunity or robust humoral responses are required.
Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs that are widely used to inhibit loss of bone mass in patients. We show here that the administration of clinically relevant doses of bisphosphonates in mice increases antibody responses to live and inactive viruses, proteins, haptens, and existing commercial vaccine formulations. Bisphosphonates exert this adjuvant-like activity in the absence of CD4(+) and ?? T cells, neutrophils, or dendritic cells, and their effect does not rely on local macrophage depletion, Toll-like receptor signaling, or the inflammasome. Rather, bisphosphonates target directly B cells and enhance B cell expansion and antibody production upon antigen encounter. These data establish bisphosphonates as an additional class of adjuvants that boost humoral immune responses.
Deciphering the signaling networks that underlie normal and disease processes remains a major challenge. Here, we report the discovery of signaling components involved in the Toll-like receptor (TLR) response of immune dendritic cells (DCs), including a previously unkown pathway shared across mammalian antiviral responses. By combining transcriptional profiling, genetic and small-molecule perturbations, and phosphoproteomics, we uncover 35 signaling regulators, including 16 known regulators, involved in TLR signaling. In particular, we find that Polo-like kinases (Plk) 2 and 4 are essential components of antiviral pathways in vitro and in vivo and activate a signaling branch involving a dozen proteins, among which is Tnfaip2, a gene associated with autoimmune diseases but whose role was unknown. Our study illustrates the power of combining systematic measurements and perturbations to elucidate complex signaling circuits and discover potential therapeutic targets.
Lymph nodes (LNs) capture microorganisms that breach the bodys external barriers and enter draining lymphatics, limiting the systemic spread of pathogens. Recent work has shown that CD11b(+)CD169(+) macrophages, which populate the subcapsular sinus (SCS) of LNs, are critical for the clearance of viruses from the lymph and for initiating antiviral humoral immune responses. Here we show, using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a relative of rabies virus transmitted by insect bites, that SCS macrophages perform a third vital function: they prevent lymph-borne neurotropic viruses from infecting the central nervous system (CNS). On local depletion of LN macrophages, about 60% of mice developed ascending paralysis and died 7-10 days after subcutaneous infection with a small dose of VSV, whereas macrophage-sufficient animals remained asymptomatic and cleared the virus. VSV gained access to the nervous system through peripheral nerves in macrophage-depleted LNs. In contrast, within macrophage-sufficient LNs VSV replicated preferentially in SCS macrophages but not in adjacent nerves. Removal of SCS macrophages did not compromise adaptive immune responses against VSV, but decreased type I interferon (IFN-I) production within infected LNs. VSV-infected macrophages recruited IFN-I-producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells to the SCS and in addition were a major source of IFN-I themselves. Experiments in bone marrow chimaeric mice revealed that IFN-I must act on both haematopoietic and stromal compartments, including the intranodal nerves, to prevent lethal infection with VSV. These results identify SCS macrophages as crucial gatekeepers to the CNS that prevent fatal viral invasion of the nervous system on peripheral infection.
Activation, proliferation and differentiation of naïve B lymphocytes into memory B cells and plasma cells requires engagement of the B cell receptor (BCR) coupled to T-cell help (1, 2). T cells deliver help in cognate fashion when they are activated upon recognition of specific MHC-peptide complexes presented by B cells. T cells can also deliver help in a non-cognate or bystander fashion, when they do not find specific MHC-peptide complexes on B cells and are activated by alternative mechanisms. T-cell dependent activation of B cells can be studied in vitro by experimental models called "B cell helper assays" that are based on the co-culture of B cells with activated T cells. These assays allow to decipher the molecular bases for productive T-dependent B cell responses. We show here examples of B cell helper assays in vitro, which can be reproduced with any subset of T lymphocytes that displays the appropriate helper signals.
CD4(+) T (Th)-cell help to B lymphocytes requires cognate interaction and CD40 engagement. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are innate-like T lymphocytes that recognize alphagalactosylceramide (alphaGalCer) presented by CD1d, and can help B-cell responses. We asked whether alphaGalCer-activated iNKT cells help B lymphocytes through cognate interaction, or indirectly, via enhancement of Th-B-cell interaction. After immunization with protein Ags and alphaGalCer, antibody titers were assessed in wild-type or splenectomized mice, and in bone marrow radiation chimeras lacking CD1d or CD40 expression on B lymphocytes, or expressing CD1d or MHC II disjointly on antigen-presenting cells (APCs). We find that alphaGalCer-dependent enhancement of B-cell response (1) can occur when B cells do not express CD1d but express CD40; (2) requires that iNKT and Th cells interact with the same APCs that coexpress both CD1d and MHC-II; and (3) takes place without spleen. These findings demonstrate alphaGalCer-induced help for antibody responses can occur without cognate iNKT/B-cell interaction, and suggest this help entails activation of APCs by iNKT cells, which in turn activate Th cells and their helper functions for B cells. Thus, the alphaGalCer-induced help recapitulates the function of classical adjuvants that stimulate the innate immune system to support adaptive immune responses.
Neutralizing antibodies have been thought to be required for protection against acutely cytopathic viruses, such as the neurotropic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Utilizing mice that possess B cells but lack antibodies, we show here that survival upon subcutaneous (s.c.) VSV challenge was independent of neutralizing antibody production or cell-mediated adaptive immunity. However, B cells were absolutely required to provide lymphotoxin (LT) ?1?2, which maintained a protective subcapsular sinus (SCS) macrophage phenotype within virus draining lymph nodes (LNs). Macrophages within the SCS of B cell-deficient LNs, or of mice that lack LT?1?2 selectively in B cells, displayed an aberrant phenotype, failed to replicate VSV, and therefore did not produce type I interferons, which were required to prevent fatal VSV invasion of intranodal nerves. Thus, although B cells are essential for survival during VSV infection, their contribution involves the provision of innate differentiation and maintenance signals to macrophages, rather than adaptive immune mechanisms.
B cells require MHC class II (MHC II)-restricted cognate help and CD40 engagement by CD4(+) T follicular helper (T(FH)) cells to form germinal centers and long-lasting Ab responses. Invariant NKT (iNKT) cells are innate-like lymphocytes that jumpstart the adaptive immune response when activated by the CD1d-restricted lipid ?-galactosylceramide (?GalCer). We previously observed that immunization of mice lacking CD4(+) T cells (MHC II(-/-)) elicits specific IgG responses only when protein Ags are mixed with ?GalCer. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms underpinning this observation. We find that induction of Ag-specific Ab responses in MHC II(-/-) mice upon immunization with protein Ags mixed with ?GalCer requires CD1d expression and CD40 engagement on B cells, suggesting that iNKT cells provide CD1d-restricted cognate help for B cells. Remarkably, splenic iNKT cells from immunized MHC II(-/-) mice display a typical CXCR5(hi)programmed death-1(hi)ICOS(hi)Bcl-6(hi) T(FH) phenotype and induce germinal centers. The specific IgG response induced in MHC II(-/-) mice has shorter duration than that developing in CD4-competent animals, suggesting that iNKT(FH) cells preferentially induce transient rather than long-lived Ab responses. Together, these results suggest that iNKT cells can be co-opted into the follicular helper function, yet iNKT(FH) and CD4(+) T(FH) cells display distinct helper features, consistent with the notion that these two cell subsets play nonredundant functions throughout immune responses.
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