This overview describes the full spectrum of current pre-clinical and clinical kidney-, liver-, heart- and lung transplantation research performed in Erasmus MC - University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. An update is provided on the development of a large living donor kidney transplantation program and on optimization of kidney allocation, including the implementation of a domino kidney-donation program. Our current research efforts to optimize immunosuppressive regimens and find novel targets for immunosuppressive therapy, our recent studies on prevention of ischemia-reperfusion-induced graft injury, our newest findings on stimulation of tissue regeneration, our novel approaches to prevent rejection and viral infection, and our latest insights in the regulation of allograft rejection, are summarized.
High-dose i.v. Ig (IVIg) is a prominent immunomodulatory therapy for various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Recent mice studies suggest that IVIg inhibits myeloid cell function by inducing a cascade of IL-33-Th2 cytokine production causing upregulation of the inhibitory Fc?RIIb, as well as by modulating IFN-? signaling. The purpose of our study was to explore whether and how these mechanisms are operational in IVIg-treated patients. We show that IVIg in patients results in increases in plasma levels of IL-33, IL-4, and IL-13 and that increments in IL-33 levels correlate with rises in plasma IL-4 and IL-13 levels. Strikingly, no upregulation of Fc?RIIb expression was found, but instead a decreased expression of the activating Fc?RIIa on circulating myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) after high-dose, but not after low-dose, IVIg treatment. In addition, expression of the signaling IFN-?R2 subunit of the IFN-?R on mDCs was downregulated upon high-dose IVIg therapy. In vitro experiments suggest that the modulation of Fc?Rs and IFN-?R2 on mDCs is mediated by IL-4 and IL-13, which functionally suppress the responsiveness of mDCs to immune complexes or IFN-?. Human lymph nodes and macrophages were identified as potential sources of IL-33 during IVIg treatment. Interestingly, stimulation of IL-33 production in human macrophages by IVIg was not mediated by dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN). In conclusion, high-dose IVIg treatment inhibits inflammatory responsiveness of mDCs in humans by Th2 cytokine-mediated downregulation of Fc?RIIa and IFN-?R2 and not by upregulation of Fc?RIIb. Our results suggest that this cascade is initiated by stimulation of IL-33 production that seems DC-SIGN independent.
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) preparations are widely used for anti-inflammatory therapy of autoimmune and systemic inflammatory diseases. Hyperimmunoglobulins enriched in neutralizing antibodies against viruses can, in addition to their virus-neutralizing activity, also exert immunomodulatory activity. Previously, we observed that Cytotect®, an anti-CMV hyperimmunoglobulin, was less effective in suppressing human T-cell responses in vitro compared to Hepatect® CP, an anti-HBV hyperimmunoglobulin. We hypothesized that the poor immunomodulatory activity of Cytotect® results from treatment with ?-propiolactone during the manufacturing process. The manufacturer of these hyperimmunoglobulins has now introduced a new anti-CMV hyperimmunoglobulin, called Cytotect® CP, in which ?-propiolactone treatment is omitted. Here we show that Cytotect® CP inhibits PHA-driven T-cell proliferation and cytokine production with similar efficacy as Hepatect® CP, whereas the former Cytotect® does not. In addition, Cytotect® CP inhibits allogeneic T-cell responses better than Cytotect®. Our results advocate the use of hyperimmunoglobulins that have not been exposed to ?-propiolactone in order to benefit from their immunomodulatory properties.
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a therapeutic preparation containing pooled human immunoglobulin (Ig) G, has been suggested to inhibit differentiation and maturation of dendritic cells (DCs); however, controversies exist on this issue. We aimed to reinvestigate the effects of IVIg on human DC maturation and cytokine production, and to determine whether an artifactual determinant is involved in the observed effects. Human monocyte-derived DCs or freshly isolated blood myeloid DCs were cultured in the presence of IVIg in vitro, and the expression of maturation markers CD80, CD86, CD83, and Human Leukocyte Antigen-DR were determined by flow cytometry, whereas production of interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-10 was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and T-cell stimulatory capacity was determined in cocultures with allogeneic CD4(+) T cells. Interestingly, we observed that IVIg did not inhibit, but instead stimulated, spontaneous maturation and T-cell stimulatory ability of human DCs, while leaving lipopolysaccharide-induced DC maturation and cytokine production unaffected. Strikingly, prevention of IVIg binding to culture plate surface, or blocking of the activating Fc? receptor IIa on DC, abrogated the stimulatory effect of IVIg on costimulatory molecule expression and on T-cell stimulatory capacity of DCs, suggesting that IVIg activates DCs on IgG adsorption to the plastic surface. This study warrants for careful study design when performing cell culture studies with IVIg to prevent artifactual effects, and shows that IVIg does not modulate directly costimulatory molecule expression, cytokine production, or allogeneic T-cell stimulatory capacity of human DCs.
The Forkhead transcription factor FOXA2 plays a fundamental role in controlling metabolic homeostasis in the liver during fasting. The precise molecular regulation of FOXA2 in response to nutrients is not fully understood. Here, we studied whether FOXA2 could be controlled at a post-translational level by acetylation. By means of LC-MS/MS analyses, we identified five acetylated residues in FOXA2. Sirtuin family member SIRT1 was found to interact with and deacetylate FOXA2, the latter process being dependent on the NAD+-binding catalytic site of SIRT1. Deacetylation by SIRT1 reduced protein stability of FOXA2 by targeting it towards proteasomal degradation, and inhibited transcription from the FOXA2-driven G6pase and CPT1a promoters. While mutation of the five identified acetylated residues weakly affected protein acetylation and stability, mutation of at least seven additional lysine residues was required to abolish acetylation and reduce protein levels of FOXA2. The importance of acetylation of FOXA2 became apparent upon changes in nutrient levels. The interaction of FOXA2 and SIRT1 was strongly reduced upon nutrient withdrawal in cell culture, while enhanced Foxa2 acetylation levels were observed in murine liver in vivo after starvation for 36 hours. Collectively, this study demonstrates that SIRT1 controls the acetylation level of FOXA2 in a nutrient-dependent manner and in times of nutrient shortage the interaction between SIRT1 and FOXA2 is reduced. As a result, FOXA2 is protected from degradation by enhanced acetylation, hence enabling the FOXA2 transcriptional program to be executed to maintain metabolic homeostasis.
Thymectomy during early childhood is generally thought to have serious consequences for the establishment of the T-cell compartment. In the present study, we investigated the composition of the T-cell pool in the first 3 decades after thymectomy during infancy due to cardiac surgery. In the first 5 years after thymectomy, naive and total CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell numbers in the blood and T-cell receptor excision circle (TREC) levels in CD4(+) T cells were significantly lower than in healthy age-matched controls. In the first years after thymectomy, plasma IL-7 levels were significantly elevated and peripheral T-cell proliferation levels were increased by ? 2-fold. From 5 years after thymectomy onward, naive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell counts and TRECs were within the normal range. Because TREC levels are expected to decline continuously in the absence of thymic output, we investigated whether normalization of the naive T-cell pool could be due to regeneration of thymic tissue. In the majority of individuals who had been thymectomized during infancy, thymic tissue could indeed be identified on magnetic resonance imaging scans. Whereas thymectomy has severe effects on the establishment of the naive T-cell compartment during early childhood, our data suggest that functional regrowth of thymic tissue can limit its effects in subsequent years.
Modern intensive chemotherapy for childhood haematological malignancies has led to high cure rates, but has detrimental effects on the immune system. There is little knowledge concerning long-term recovery of the adaptive immune system. Here we studied the long-term reconstitution of the adaptive immune system in 31 children treated for haematological malignancies between July 2000 and October 2006. We performed detailed phenotypical and functional analyses of the various B and T cell subpopulations until 5 years after chemotherapy. We show that recovery of newly-developed transitional B cells and naive B and T cells occurred rapidly, within months, whereas recovery of the different memory B and T cell subpopulations was slower and incomplete, even after 5 years post-chemotherapy. The speed of B and T cell recovery was age-independent, despite a significant contribution of the thymus to T cell recovery. Plasmablast B cell levels remained above normal and immunoglobulin levels normalised within 1 week. Functional T cell responses were normal, even within the first year post-chemotherapy. This study shows that after intensive chemotherapy for haematological malignancies in children, numbers of several memory B and T cell subpopulations were decreased on the long term, while functional T cell responses were not compromised.
The diagnosis of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is reserved for patients who suffer from undefined B cell dysfunction. Division of the CVID population into subgroups enables research for underlying disease causes. We studied clinical features and lymphocyte characteristics in 38 children with CVID and compared them to 30 children with less severe antibody deficiencies (e.g. specific antibody deficiency combined with IgG subclass deficiency) and with 65 pediatric controls. Most pediatric immune phenotypes were comparable to adult CVID phenotypes, including a selective increase in newly formed B cells and a decrease in memory B cells and CD4(+) T cells. Eighteen percent of pediatric patients had a mutation in the TNFRSF13B gene, which requires further investigation. Finally, pediatric patients with decreased class-switched memory B cells had significantly more complications. A pediatric classification for CVID may enable prediction and early diagnosis of disease related complications and provide a framework for further etiologic research.
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