The activation of innate immune cells triggers numerous intracellular signaling pathways, which require tight control to mount an adequate immune response. The PI3K signaling pathway is intricately involved in innate immunity, and its activation dampens the expression and release of proinflammatory cytokines in myeloid cells. These signaling processes are strictly regulated by the PI3K antagonist, the lipid phosphatase, PTEN, a known tumor suppressor. Importantly, PTEN is responsible for the elevated production of cytokines such as IL-6 in response to TLR agonists, and deletion of PTEN results in diminished inflammatory responses. However, the mechanisms by which PI3K negatively regulates TLR signaling are only partially resolved. We observed that Arginase I expression and secretion were markedly induced by PTEN deletion, suggesting PTEN(-/-) macrophages were alternatively activated. This was mediated by increased expression and activation of the transcription factors C/EBP? and STAT3. Genetic and pharmacologic experimental approaches in vitro, as well as in vivo autoimmunity models, provide convincing evidence that PI3K/PTEN-regulated extracellular Arginase I acts as a paracrine regulator of inflammation and immunity.
Uptake of apoptotic cells (ACs) by macrophages ensures the nonimmunogenic clearance of dying cells, as well as the maintenance of self-tolerance to AC-derived autoantigens. Upon ingestion, ACs exert an inhibitory influence on the inflammatory signaling within the phagocyte. However, the molecular signals that mediate these immune-modulatory properties of ACs are incompletely understood. In this article, we show that the phagocytosis of apoptotic thymocytes was enhanced in tissue-resident macrophages where this process resulted in the inhibition of NF-?B signaling and repression of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-12. In parallel, ACs induced a robust expression of a panel of immediate early genes, which included the Nr4a subfamily of nuclear receptors. Notably, deletion of Nr4a1 interfered with the anti-inflammatory effects of ACs in macrophages and restored both NF-?B signaling and IL-12 expression. Accordingly, Nr4a1 mediated the anti-inflammatory properties of ACs in vivo and was required for maintenance of self-tolerance in the murine model of pristane-induced lupus. Thus, our data point toward a key role for Nr4a1 as regulator of the immune response to ACs and of the maintenance of tolerance to "dying self."
Oxidized phospholipids (OxPLs), which are highly abundant in atherosclerotic lesions, are known to induce electrophilic stress response (ESR). ESR induces cytoprotective genes via the NF-E2-related factor 2 (NRF2) transcription factor. In order to get further insight into the mechanisms of ESR, we studied the role of microRNA (miR)-320a in induction of NRF2-dependent genes by OxPLs.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a widespread pathogen that correlates with various clinical complications, including atherosclerosis. HCMV is released into the circulation during primary infection and periodic viral reactivation, allowing virus-platelet interactions. Platelets are important in the onset and development of atherosclerosis, but the consequences of platelet-HCMV interactions are unclear.
A growing body of evidence indicates that platelets contribute to the onset and progression of atherosclerosis by modulating immune responses. We aimed to elucidate the effects of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (OxLDL) on platelet-monocyte interactions and the consequences of these interactions on platelet phagocytosis, chemokine release, monocyte extravasation, and foam cell formation.
Local bone destruction in rheumatic diseases, which often leads to disability and severely reduced quality of life, is almost exclusively mediated by osteoclasts. Therefore, it is important to understand pathways regulating the generation of osteoclasts. Here, we analysed the impact of the Phosphoinositide-3-Kinase (PI3K)/Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) axis on osteoclast generation and bone biology under basal and inflammatory conditions.
The immune system is vital for detecting and evading endogenous and exogenous threats to the body. Failure to regulate this homeostasis leads to autoimmunity, which is often associated with malfunctioning T cell signaling. Several medications are available to suppress over-reactive T lymphocytes, but many of the currently marketed drugs produce severe and life-threatening side-effects. Ribosomally synthesized peptides are gaining recognition from the pharmaceutical industry for their enhanced selectivity and decreased toxicity compared with small molecules; in particular, circular peptides exhibit remarkable stability and increased oral administration properties. For example, plant cyclotides effectively inhibit T lymphocyte proliferation. They are composed of a head-to-tail cyclized backbone and a cystine-knot motif, which confers them with remarkable stability, thus making them attractive pharmaceutical tools.
Clearance of invading pathogens is essential to preventing overwhelming inflammation and sepsis that are symptomatic of bacterial peritonitis. Macrophages participate in this innate immune response by engulfing and digesting pathogens, a process called phagocytosis. Oxidized phospholipids (OxPL) are danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) generated in response to infection that can prevent the phagocytic clearance of bacteria. We investigated the mechanism underlying OxPL action in macrophages. Exposure to OxPL induced alterations in actin polymerization, resulting in spreading of peritoneal macrophages and diminished uptake of E. coli. Pharmacological and cell-based studies showed that an anchored pool of PKA mediates the effects of OxPL. Gene silencing approaches identified the A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) WAVE1 as an effector of OxPL action in vitro. Chimeric Wave1(-/-) mice survived significantly longer after infection with E. coli and OxPL treatment in vivo. Moreover, we found that endogenously generated OxPL in human peritoneal dialysis fluid from end-stage renal failure patients inhibited phagocytosis via WAVE1. Collectively, these data uncover an unanticipated role for WAVE1 as a critical modulator of the innate immune response to severe bacterial infections.
Cyclotides are a diverse and abundant group of ribosomally synthesized plant peptides containing a unique cyclic cystine-knotted topology that confers them with remarkable stability. Kalata B1, a representative member of this family of mini-proteins, has been found to inhibit the proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Analysis of T-cell proliferation upon treatment with chemically synthesized kalata B1 mutants revealed a region comprising inter-cysteine loops 1 and 2 of the cyclotide framework to be important for biological activity. Cytokine signaling analysis using an active kalata B1 mutant [T20K], and the reference drug cyclosporin A (CsA) demonstrated that treatment of activated T-lymphocytes with these compounds decreased the expression of the interleukin-2 (IL-2) surface receptor as well as IL-2 cytokine secretion and IL-2 gene expression, whereas the inactive kalata B1 mutant [V10K] did not cause any effects. The anti-proliferative activity of [T20K] kalata B1 was antagonized by addition of exogenous IL-2. Furthermore, treatment with [T20K] kalata B1 led to an initial reduction of the effector function, as indicated by the reduced IFN-? and TNF-? production, but the levels of both cytokines stabilized over time and returned to their normal levels. On the other hand, the degranulation activity remained reduced. This indicated that cyclotides interfere with T-cell polyfunctionality and arrest the proliferation of immune-competent cells through inhibiting IL-2 biology at more than one site. The results open new avenues to utilize native and synthetically-optimized cyclotides for applications in immune-related disorders and as immunosuppressant peptides.
Sepsis still remains a major cause for morbidity and mortality in patients. The molecular mechanisms underlying the disease are still enigmatic. A great number of therapeutic approaches have failed and treatment strategies are limited to date. Among those few admitted for clinical intervention, intensive insulin treatment has proven to be effective in the reduction of disease related complications in critically ill patients. Insulin effectively reduces glucose levels and thereby contributes to protection. On the other hand insulin is a potent signaling pathway activator. One of those is the PI3K signaling axis. Activation of PI3K is known to limit pro-inflammatory gene expression. Here we can show that in a mouse model of insulin hypersensitivity induced by the deletion of the PI3K antagonist PTEN, specifically in hepatic tissue, significant protection is conferred in murine models of lethal endotoxemia and sepsis. Acute inflammatory responses are diminished, glucose metabolism normalized and vascular activation is reduced. Furthermore we investigated the hepatic gene expression profile of relevant anti-inflammatory genes in PTEN deficient mice and found marked upregulation of PPAR? and HO-1. We conclude from our data that insulin hypersensitivity via sustained activation of the PI3K signaling pathway exerts protective effects in acute inflammatory processes.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are precursors of multiple pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules generated by enzymatic stereospecific and positionally specific insertion of oxygen, which is a prerequisite for recognition of these mediators by cellular receptors. However, nonenzymatically oxidized free and esterified polyunsaturated fatty acids also demonstrate activities relevant to inflammation. In particular, phospholipids containing oxidized fatty acid residues (oxidized phospholipids; OxPLs) were shown to induce proinflammatory changes in endothelial cells but paradoxically also to inhibit inflammation induced via TLR4. In this study, we show that half-maximal inhibition of LPS-induced elevation of E-selectin mRNA in endothelial cells developed at concentrations of oxidized 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (OxPAPC) 10-fold lower than those required to induce proinflammatory response. Similar concentration difference was observed for other classes and molecular species of OxPLs. Upon injection into mice, OxPAPC did not elevate plasma levels of IL-6 and keratinocyte chemoattractant but strongly inhibited LPS-induced upregulation of these inflammatory cytokines. Thus, both in vitro and in vivo, anti-LPS effects of OxPLs are observed at lower concentrations than those required for their proinflammatory action. Quantification of the most abundant oxidized phosphatidylcholines by HPLC/tandem mass spectrometry showed that circulating concentrations of total oxidized phosphatidylcholine species are close to the range where they demonstrate anti-LPS activity but significantly lower than that required for induction of inflammation. We hypothesize that low levels of OxPLs in circulation serve mostly anti-LPS function and protect from excessive systemic response to TLR4 ligands, whereas proinflammatory effects of OxPLs are more likely to develop locally at sites of tissue deposition of OxPLs (e.g., in atherosclerotic vessels).
Resolution of inflammation is an important hallmark in the course of infectious diseases. Dysregulated inflammatory responses may have detrimental consequences for the affected organism. Therefore, tight regulation of inflammation is indispensable. Among numerous modulatory signaling pathways, the PI3K/PTEN signaling pathway has been proposed recently to be involved in the regulation of innate immune reactions. Here, we attempted to elucidate molecular mechanisms that contribute to the modulatory properties of the PI3K signaling pathway in inflammation. PTEN-deficient macrophages, which harbor constitutively active PI3Ks, were analyzed in response to gram-negative bacteria and PAMPs such as LPS. PTEN-deficient cells showed reduced inflammatory cytokine production, which was accompanied by reduced MAPK signaling activation in early- as well as late-phase activation. Simultaneously, we found increased levels of the MKP DUSP1, as well as the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Our data suggest that differential DUSP1 regulation coupled with enhanced IL-10 production contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of the PI3K pathway.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase has been described as an essential signaling component involved in the chemotactic cell influx that is required to eliminate pathogens. At the same time, PI3K was reported to modulate the immune response, thus limiting the magnitude of acute inflammation. The precise role of the PI3K pathway and its endogenous antagonist phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) during clinically relevant bacterial infections is still poorly understood. Utilizing mice lacking myeloid cell-specific PTEN, we studied the impact of PTEN on the immune response to Streptococcus pneumoniae. Survival analysis disclosed that PTEN-deficient mice displayed less severe signs of disease and prolonged survival. The inflammatory response to S. pneumoniae was greatly reduced in macrophages in vitro and in vivo. Unexpectedly, neutrophil influx to the lungs was significantly impaired in animals lacking myeloid-cell PTEN, whereas the additional observation of improved phagocytosis by alveolar macrophages lacking PTEN ultimately resulted in unaltered lung CFUs following bacterial infection. Together, the absence of myeloid cell-associated PTEN and consecutively enhanced PI3K activity dampened pulmonary inflammation, reduced neutrophil influx, and augmented phagocytic properties of macrophages, which ultimately resulted in decreased tissue injury and improved survival during murine pneumococcal pneumonia.
Acute lung injury (ALI) is a serious condition in critically ill patients that predisposes to secondary bacterial pneumonia. Vascular leak is a hallmark in the pathogenesis of ALI. The fibrin-derived peptide Bbeta(15-42) was shown to preserve endothelial barriers, thereby reducing vascular leak. The potential therapeutic role of Bbeta(15-42) in ALI has not been addressed so far.
Eicosanoids are essential mediators of the inflammatory response and contribute both to the initiation and the resolution of inflammation. Leukocyte-type 12/15-lipoxygenase (12/15-LO) represents a major enzyme involved in the generation of a subclass of eicosanoids, including the anti-inflammatory lipoxin A(4) (LXA(4)). Nevertheless, the impact of 12/15-LO on chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis has remained elusive. By using two experimental models of arthritis, the K/BxN serum-transfer and a TNF transgenic mouse model, we show that deletion of 12/15-LO leads to uncontrolled inflammation and tissue damage. Consistent with these findings, 12/15-LO-deficient mice showed enhanced inflammatory gene expression and decreased levels of LXA(4) within their inflamed synovia. In isolated macrophages, the addition of 12/15-LO-derived eicosanoids blocked both phosphorylation of p38MAPK and expression of a subset of proinflammatory genes. Conversely, 12/15-LO-deficient macrophages displayed significantly reduced levels of LXA(4), which correlated with increased activation of p38MAPK and an enhanced inflammatory gene expression after stimulation with TNF-alpha. Taken together, these results support an anti-inflammatory and tissue-protective role of 12/15-LO and its products during chronic inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.
Oxidized phospholipids (OxPLs) that are abundant in atherosclerotic lesions are increasingly recognized as context-dependent lipid mediators demonstrating both pro- and antiinflammatory activities. Molecular mechanisms of their effects are largely unknown. Here we present novel information on the mechanisms whereby OxPLs modulate activation of TLR4 by lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
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