Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major human pathogen that causes immune-mediated hepatitis. Successful immunity to HBV is age dependent: viral clearance occurs in most adults, whereas neonates and young children usually develop chronic infection. Using a mouse model of HBV infection, we sought mechanisms underpinning the age-dependent outcome of HBV and demonstrated that hepatic macrophages facilitate lymphoid organization and immune priming within the adult liver and promote successful immunity. In contrast, lymphoid organization and immune priming was greatly diminished in the livers of young mice, and of macrophage-depleted adult mice, leading to abrogated HBV immunity. Furthermore, we found that CXCL13, which is involved in B lymphocyte trafficking and lymphoid architecture and development, is expressed in an age-dependent manner in both adult mouse and human hepatic macrophages and plays an integral role in facilitating an effective immune response against HBV. Taken together, these results identify some of the immunological mechanisms necessary for effective control of HBV.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) form a semi-permeable barrier between parenchymal hepatocytes and the blood. LSECs participate in liver metabolism, clearance of pathological agents, immunological responses, architectural maintenance of the liver and synthesis of growth factors and cytokines. LSECs also play an important role in coagulation through the synthesis of Factor VIII (FVIII). Herein, we phenotypically define human LSECs isolated from fetal liver using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. Isolated LSECs were cultured and shown to express endothelial markers and markers specific for the LSEC lineage. LSECs were also shown to engraft the liver when human fetal liver cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice with liver specific expression of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) transgene (uPA-NOG mice). Engrafted cells expressed human Factor VIII at levels approaching those found in human plasma. We also demonstrate engraftment of adult LSECs, as well as hepatocytes, transplanted into uPA-NOG mice. We propose that overexpression of uPA provides beneficial conditions for LSEC engraftment due to elevated expression of the angiogenic cytokine, vascular endothelial growth factor. This work provides a detailed characterization of human midgestation LSECs, thereby providing the means for their purification and culture based on their expression of CD14 and CD32 as well as a lack of CD45 expression. The uPA-NOG mouse is shown to be a permissive host for human LSECs and adult hepatocytes, but not fetal hepatoblasts. Thus, these mice provide a useful model system to study these cell types in vivo. Demonstration of human FVIII production by transplanted LSECs encourages further pursuit of LSEC transplantation as a cellular therapy for the treatment of hemophilia A.
The airway is a primary portal of entry for noxious environmental stimuli that can trigger airway remodeling, which contributes significantly to airway obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic asthma. Important pathologic components of airway remodeling include fibrosis and abnormal innate and adaptive immune responses. The positioning of fibroblasts in interstitial spaces suggests that they could participate in both fibrosis and chemokine regulation of the trafficking of immune cells such as dendritic cells, which are crucial antigen-presenting cells. However, physiological evidence for this dual role for fibroblasts is lacking. Here, in two physiologically relevant models - conditional deletion in mouse fibroblasts of the TGF-?-activating integrin ?v?8 and neutralization of ?v?8 in human COPD fibroblasts - we have elucidated a mechanism whereby lung fibroblast chemokine secretion directs dendritic cell trafficking, in a manner that is critically dependent on ?v?8-mediated activation of TGF-? by fibroblasts. Our data therefore indicate that fibroblasts have a crucial role in regulating both fibrotic and immune responses in the lung.
HBV is a noncytopathic hepadnavirus and major human pathogen that causes immune-mediated acute and chronic hepatitis. The immune response to HBV antigens is age dependent: viral clearance occurs in most adults, while neonates and children usually develop chronic infection and liver disease. Here, we characterize an animal model for HBV infection that recapitulates the key differences in viral clearance between early life and adulthood and find that IL-21 may be part of an effective primary hepatic immune response to HBV. In our model, adult mice showed higher HBV-dependent IL-21 production in liver, compared with that of young mice. Conversely, absence of the IL-21 receptor in adult mice resulted in antigen persistence akin to that of young mice. In humans, levels of IL-21 transcripts were greatly increased in blood samples from acutely infected adults who clear the virus. These observations suggest a different model for the dichotomous, age dependent outcome of HBV infection in humans, in which decreased IL-21 production in younger patients may hinder generation of crucial CD8+ T and B cell responses. These findings carry implications for therapeutic augmentation of immune responses to HBV and potentially other persistent liver viruses.
In most adult humans, hepatitis B is a self-limiting disease leading to life-long protective immunity, which is the consequence of a robust adaptive immune response occurring weeks after hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Notably, HBV-specific T cells can be detected shortly after infection, but the mechanisms underlying this early immune priming and its consequences for subsequent control of viral replication are poorly understood. Using primary human and mouse hepatocytes and mouse models of transgenic and adenoviral HBV expression, we show that HBV-expressing hepatocytes produce endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated endogenous antigenic lipids including lysophospholipids that are generated by HBV-induced secretory phospholipases and that lead to activation of natural killer T (NKT) cells. The absence of NKT cells or CD1d or a defect in ER-associated transfer of lipids onto CD1d results in diminished HBV-specific T and B cell responses and delayed viral control in mice. NKT cells may therefore contribute to control of HBV infection through sensing of HBV-induced modified self-lipids.
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