An l-rhamnose-based hydrogelator self-assembles to form nanofibrils, which, in contrast to the properties of monomeric l-rhamnose, suppress the antibody response of mice to phycoerythrin (PE), a fluorescent protein antigen. As the first example of the supramolecular assemblies of a saccharide to suppress immunity, this work illustrates a new approach of immunomodulation.
Nociceptor sensory neurons are specialized to detect potentially damaging stimuli, protecting the organism by initiating the sensation of pain and eliciting defensive behaviours. Bacterial infections produce pain by unknown molecular mechanisms, although they are presumed to be secondary to immune activation. Here we demonstrate that bacteria directly activate nociceptors, and that the immune response mediated through TLR2, MyD88, T cells, B cells, and neutrophils and monocytes is not necessary for Staphylococcus aureus-induced pain in mice. Mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia in mice is correlated with live bacterial load rather than tissue swelling or immune activation. Bacteria induce calcium flux and action potentials in nociceptor neurons, in part via bacterial N-formylated peptides and the pore-forming toxin ?-haemolysin, through distinct mechanisms. Specific ablation of Nav1.8-lineage neurons, which include nociceptors, abrogated pain during bacterial infection, but concurrently increased local immune infiltration and lymphadenopathy of the draining lymph node. Thus, bacterial pathogens produce pain by directly activating sensory neurons that modulate inflammation, an unsuspected role for the nervous system in host-pathogen interactions.
Microglia are resident immune cells of the CNS that are activated by infection, neuronal injury, and inflammation. Here, we utilize flow cytometry and deep RNA sequencing of acutely isolated spinal cord microglia to define their activation in vivo. Analysis of resting microglia identified 29 genes that distinguish microglia from other CNS cells and peripheral macrophages/monocytes. We then analyzed molecular changes in microglia during neurodegenerative disease activation using the SOD1(G93A) mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We found that SOD1(G93A) microglia are not derived from infiltrating monocytes, and that both potentially neuroprotective and toxic factors, including Alzheimers disease genes, are concurrently upregulated. Mutant microglia differed from SOD1(WT), lipopolysaccharide-activated microglia, and M1/M2 macrophages, defining an ALS-specific phenotype. Concurrent messenger RNA/fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis revealed posttranscriptional regulation of microglia surface receptors and T cell-associated changes in the transcriptome. These results provide insights into microglia biology and establish a resource for future studies of neuroinflammation.
Coronary artery occlusion resulting in ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is a major cause of mortality in the western world. Circulating natural IgM has been shown to play a significant role in reperfusion injury, leading to the notion of a pathogenic response against self by the innate immune system. A specific self-antigen (non-muscle myosin heavy chain II) was recently identified as the major target of pathogenic natural IgM. Therefore, we hypothesized that a synthetic peptide mimetope (N2) or monoclonal antibodies directed against the self-antigen would prevent specific IgM binding to the self-antigen and reduce reperfusion injury in the heart.
Inflammation mediated by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and the associated neuronal apoptosis characterizes a number of neurologic disorders. Macrophages and microglial cells are believed to be the major source of TNF-alpha in the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we show that suppression of TNF-alpha by targeted delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to macrophage/microglial cells dramatically reduces lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced neuroinflammation and neuronal apoptosis in vivo. Because macrophage/microglia express the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AchR) on their surface, we used a short AchR-binding peptide derived from the rabies virus glycoprotein (RVG) as a targeting ligand. This peptide was fused to nona-D-arginine residues (RVG-9dR) to enable siRNA binding. RVG-9dR was able to deliver siRNA to induce gene silencing in macrophages and microglia cells from wild type, but not AchR-deficient mice, confirming targeting specificity. Treatment with anti-TNF-alpha siRNA complexed to RVG-9dR achieved efficient silencing of LPS-induced TNF-alpha production by primary macrophages and microglia cells in vitro. Moreover, intravenous injection with RVG-9dR-complexed siRNA in mice reduced the LPS-induced TNF-alpha levels in blood as well as in the brain, leading to a significant reduction in neuronal apoptosis. These results demonstrate that RVG-9dR provides a tool for siRNA delivery to macrophages and microglia and that suppression of TNF-alpha can potentially be used to suppress neuroinflammation in vivo.
During injury to the nervous system, innate immune cells mediate phagocytosis of debris, cytokine production, and axon regeneration. In the neuro-degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), innate immune cells in the CNS are activated. However, the role of innate immunity in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) has not been well defined. In this study, we characterized robust activation of CD169/CD68/Iba1+ macrophages throughout the PNS in mutant SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G37R) transgenic mouse models of ALS. Macrophage activation occurred pre-symptomatically, and expanded from focal arrays within nerve bundles to a tissue-wide distribution following symptom onset. We found a striking dichotomy for immune cells within the spinal cord and PNS. Flow cytometry and GFP bone marrow chimeras showed that spinal cord microglia were mainly tissue resident derived, dendritic-like cells, whereas in peripheral nerves, the majority of activated macrophages infiltrated from the circulation. Humoral antibodies and complement localized to PNS tissue in tandem with macrophage recruitment, and deficiency in complement C4 led to decreased macrophage activation. Therefore, cross-talk between nervous and immune systems occurs throughout the PNS during ALS disease progression. These data reveal a progressive innate and humoral immune response in peripheral nerves that is separate and distinct from spinal cord immune activation in ALS transgenic mice.
The peripheral nervous and immune systems are traditionally thought of as serving separate functions. The line between them is, however, becoming increasingly blurred by new insights into neurogenic inflammation. Nociceptor neurons possess many of the same molecular recognition pathways for danger as immune cells, and, in response to danger, the peripheral nervous system directly communicates with the immune system, forming an integrated protective mechanism. The dense innervation network of sensory and autonomic fibers in peripheral tissues and high speed of neural transduction allows rapid local and systemic neurogenic modulation of immunity. Peripheral neurons also seem to contribute to immune dysfunction in autoimmune and allergic diseases. Therefore, understanding the coordinated interaction of peripheral neurons with immune cells may advance therapeutic approaches to increase host defense and suppress immunopathology.
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