Publications by authors named "Femke Broere"

62 Publications

Hsp70 and NF-kB Mediated Control of Innate Inflammatory Responses in a Canine Macrophage Cell Line.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Sep 4;21(18). Epub 2020 Sep 4.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases is associated with the uncontrolled activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) in macrophages. Previous studies have shown that in various cell types, heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) plays a crucial role in controlling NF-κB activity. So far, little is known about the role of Hsp70 in canine inflammatory processes. In this study we investigated the potential anti-inflammatory effects of Hsp70 in canine macrophages as well as the mechanisms underlying these effects. To this end, a canine macrophage cell line was stressed with arsenite, a chemical stressor, which upregulated Hsp70 expression as detected by flow cytometry and qPCR. A gene-edited version of this macrophage cell line lacking inducible Hsp70 was generated using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. To determine the effects of Hsp70 on macrophage inflammatory properties, arsenite-stressed wild-type and Hsp70 knockout macrophages were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and the expression of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and levels of phosphorylated NF-κB were determined by qPCR and Western Blotting, respectively. Our results show that non-toxic concentrations of arsenite induced Hsp70 expression in canine macrophages; Hsp70 upregulation significantly inhibited the LPS-induced expression of the pro-inflammatory mediators TNF-α and IL-6, as well as NF-κB activation in canine macrophages. Furthermore, the gene editing of inducible Hsp70 by CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene editing neutralized this inhibitory effect of cell stress on NF-κB activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. Collectively, our study reveals that Hsp70 may regulate inflammatory responses through NF-κB activation and cytokine expression in canine macrophages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186464DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7555705PMC
September 2020

Leucinostatin acts as a co-inducer for heat shock protein 70 in cultured canine retinal pigment epithelial cells.

Cell Stress Chaperones 2020 03 15;25(2):235-243. Epub 2020 Jan 15.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Dysregulation of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells is the main cause of a variety of ocular diseases. Potentially heat shock proteins, by preventing molecular and cellular damage and modulating inflammatory disease, may exert a protective role in eye disease. In particular, the inducible form of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is widely upregulated in inflamed tissues, and in vivo upregulation of Hsp70 expression by HSP co-inducing compounds has been shown to be a potential therapeutic strategy for inflammatory diseases. In order to gain further understanding of the potential protective effects of Hsp70 in RPE cells, we developed a method for isolation and culture of canine RPE cells. Identity of RPE cells was confirmed by detection of its specific marker, RPE65, in qPCR, flow cytometry, and immunocytochemistry analysis. The ability of RPE cells to express Hsp70 upon experimental induction of cell stress, by arsenite, was analyzed by flow cytometry. Finally, in search of a potential Hsp70 co-inducer, we investigated whether the compound leucinostatin could enhance Hsp70 expression in stressed RPE cells. Canine RPE cells were isolated and cultured successfully. Purity of cells that strongly expressed RPE65 was over 90%. Arsenite-induced stress led to a time- and dose-dependent increase in Hsp70 expression in canine RPE cells in vitro. In addition, leucinostatin, which enhanced heat shock factor-1-induced transcription from the heat shock promoter in DNAJB1-luc-O23 reporter cell line, also enhanced Hsp70 expression in arsenite-stressed RPE cells, in a dose-dependent fashion. These findings demonstrate that leucinostatin can boost Hsp70 expression in canine RPE cells, most likely by activating heat shock factor-1, suggesting that leucinostatin might be applied as a new co-inducer for Hsp70 expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12192-019-01066-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7058576PMC
March 2020

Targeting of tolerogenic dendritic cells to heat-shock proteins in inflammatory arthritis.

J Transl Med 2019 11 14;17(1):375. Epub 2019 Nov 14.

Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Background: Autologous tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDC) are a promising therapeutic strategy for inflammatory arthritis (IA) as they can regulate autoantigen-specific T cell responses. Here, we investigated two outstanding priorities for clinical development: (i) the suitability of using heat-shock proteins (HSP), abundant in inflamed synovia, as surrogate autoantigens to be presented by tolDC and (ii) identification of functional biomarkers that confirm tolDC regulatory activity.

Methods: Cell proliferation dye-labelled human peripheral blood mononuclear cells of IA (rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA)) patients or healthy donors were cultured with HSP40-, HSP60- and HSP70-derived peptides or recall antigens (e.g. tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD)) in the presence or absence of tolDC or control DC for 9 days. Functional characteristics of proliferated antigen-specific T-cells were measured using flow cytometry, gene expression profiling and cytokine secretion immunoassays. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Bonferroni correction for comparisons between multiple groups and paired Student t test for comparisons between two groups were used to determine significance.

Results: All groups showed robust CD4 T-cell responses towards one or more HSP-derived peptide(s) as assessed by a stimulation index > 2 (healthy donors: 78%, RA: 73%, PsA: 90%) and production of the cytokines IFNγ, IL-17A and GM-CSF. Addition of tolDC but not control DC induced a type 1 regulatory (Tr1) phenotype in the antigen-specific CD4 T-cell population, as identified by high expression of LAG3, CD49b and secretion of IL-10. Furthermore, tolDC inhibited bystander natural killer (NK) cell activation in a TGFβ dependent manner.

Conclusions: HSP-specific CD4 T-cells are detectable in the majority of RA and PsA patients and can be converted into Tr1 cells by tolDC. HSP-loaded tolDC may therefore be suitable for directing T regulatory responses to antigens in inflamed synovia of IA patients. Tr1 markers LAG3, CD49b and IL-10 are suitable biomarkers for future tolDC clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-019-2128-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6857208PMC
November 2019

Matured Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells Effectively Inhibit Autoantigen Specific CD4 T Cells in a Murine Arthritis Model.

Front Immunol 2019 28;10:2068. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Division of Immunology, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDCs) are a promising treatment modality for diseases caused by a breach in immune tolerance, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Current medication for these diseases is directed toward symptom suppression but no real cure is available yet. TolDC-based therapy aims to restore immune tolerance in an antigen-specific manner. Here we used a mouse model to address two major questions: (i) is a maturation stimulus needed for tolDC function and and is maturation required for functioning in experimental arthritis and (ii) can tolDCs modulate CD4 T cell responses? To answer these questions, we compared matured and immature dexamethasone/vitamin D3-generated tolDCs . Subsequently, we co-transferred these tolDCs with naïve or effector CD4 T cells to study the characteristics of transferred T cells after 3 days with flow cytometry and Luminex multiplex assays. In addition, we tested the suppressive capabilities of tolDCs in an experimental arthritis model. We found that tolDCs cannot only modulate naïve CD4 T cell responses as shown by fewer proliferated and activated CD4 T cells , but also effector CD4 T cells. In addition, Treg (CD4CD25FoxP3) expansions were seen in the proliferating cell population in the presence of tolDCs. Furthermore, we show that administered tolDCs are capable to inhibit arthritis in the proteoglycan-induced arthritis model. However, a maturation stimulus is needed for tolDCs to manifest this tolerizing function in an inflammatory environment. Our data will be instrumental for optimization of future tolDC therapies for autoimmune diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02068DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6724516PMC
October 2020

Lipidoid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles loaded with TNF siRNA suppress inflammation after intra-articular administration in a murine experimental arthritis model.

Eur J Pharm Biopharm 2019 Sep 11;142:38-48. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 2, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark. Electronic address:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common autoimmune disease, which is characterized by painful chronic inflammation in the joints, and novel safe and efficacious treatments are urgently needed. RNA interference (RNAi) therapy based on small interfering RNA (siRNA) is a promising approach for silencing specific genes involved in inflammation. However, delivery of siRNA to the target site, i.e. the cytosol of immune cells, is a challenge. Here, we designed lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPNs) composed of lipidoid and poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) loaded with a therapeutic cargo siRNA directed against the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which plays a key role in the progression of RA. We compared their efficacy and safety with reference lipidoid-based stable nucleic acid lipid particles (SNALPs) in vitro and in vivo. Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering revealed that the mode of loading of siRNA in lamellar structures differs between the two formulations. Thus, siRNA was tightly packed in LPNs, while LPNs displayed lower adhesion than SNALPs. The LPNs mediated a higher TNF silencing effect in vitro than SNALPs in the RAW 264.7 macrophage cell line activated with lipopolysaccharide. For both types of delivery systems, macropinocytosis was involved in cellular uptake. In addition, clathrin-mediated endocytosis contributed to uptake of SNALPs. LPNs loaded with TNF siRNA mediated sequence-specific suppression of inflammation in a murine experimental arthritis model upon intra-articular administration. Hence, the present study demonstrates that LPN-mediated TNF knockdown constitutes a promising approach for arthritis therapy of TNF-mediated chronic inflammatory conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpb.2019.06.009DOI Listing
September 2019

Heat Shock Proteins Can Be Surrogate Autoantigens for Induction of Antigen Specific Therapeutic Tolerance in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Front Immunol 2019 22;10:279. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Technologies that enable induction of therapeutic tolerance may revolutionize the treatment of autoimmune diseases by their supposed potential to induce drug-free and lasting disease remission. In combination with diagnostic tests that screen for individuals at risk, these approaches may offer chances to halt disease before serious damage in the tissues can occur. In fact, for healthy individuals at risk, this could lead to a preventive form of vaccination. For therapeutic tolerance to re-instate natural self-tolerance it seems essential to induce tolerance for the critical autoantigens involved in disease. However, for most autoimmune diseases such antigens are poorly defined. This is the case for both disease inciting autoantigens and antigens that become involved through epitope spreading. A possible source of surrogate auto-antigens expressed in tissues during inflammation are heat shock proteins (HSP) or stress proteins. In this mini-review we discuss unique characteristics of HSP which provide them with the capacity to inhibit inflammatory processes. Various studies have shown that epitopes of HSP60 and HSP70 molecules can function as vaccines to downregulate a variety of autoimmune inflammatory diseases. Currently, several research groups are developing cell therapies with the intention to reach therapeutic tolerance. In this review, in which we are proposing to load tolerant dendritic cells with a Treg inducing HSP70 derived peptide called B29, we are discussing the chances to develop this as an autologous tolDC therapeutic tolerance therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.00279DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6401592PMC
September 2020

The bacterial and fungal microbiome of the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis and the impact of topical antimicrobial therapy, an exploratory study.

Vet Microbiol 2019 Feb 21;229:90-99. Epub 2018 Dec 21.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CL, the Netherlands; Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, 0110, South Africa. Electronic address:

Canine atopic dermatitis is a genetically predisposed inflammatory and pruritic allergic skin disease that is often complicated by (secondary) bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections. High-throughput DNA sequencing was used to characterize the composition of the microbiome (bacteria and fungi) inhabiting specific sites of skin in healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis (AD) before and after topical antimicrobial treatment. Skin microbiome samples were collected from six healthy control dogs and three dogs spontaneously affected by AD by swabbing at (non-) predilection sites before, during and after treatment. Bacteria and fungi were profiled by Illumina sequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene of bacteria (16S) and the internally transcribed spacer of the ribosomal gene cassette in fungi (ITS). The total cohort of dogs showed a high diversity of microbes on skin with a strong individual variability of both 16S and ITS profiles. The genera of Staphylococcus and Porphyromonas were dominantly present both on atopic and healthy skin and across all skin sites studied. In addition, bacterial and fungal alpha diversity were similar at the different skin sites. The topical antimicrobial treatment increased the diversity of bacterial and fungal compositions in course of time on both AD and healthy skin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2018.12.022DOI Listing
February 2019

Immunization of young heifers with staphylococcal immune evasion proteins before natural exposure to Staphylococcus aureus induces a humoral immune response in serum and milk.

BMC Vet Res 2019 Jan 7;15(1):15. Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Department of Large Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: Staphylococcus aureus, a leading cause of mastitis in dairy cattle, causes severe mastitis and/or chronic persistent infections with detrimental effects on the cows' wellbeing, lifespan and milk production. Despite years of research there is no effective vaccine against S. aureus mastitis. Boosting of non-protective pre-existing immunity to S. aureus, induced by natural exposure to S. aureus, by vaccination may interfere with vaccine efficacy. The aim was to assess whether experimental immunization of S. aureus naïve animals results in an immune response that differs from immunity following natural exposure to S. aureus.

Results: First, to define the period during which calves are immunologically naïve for S. aureus, Efb, LukM, and whole-cell S. aureus specific serum antibodies were measured in a cohort of newborn calves by ELISA. Rising S. aureus specific antibodies indicated that from week 12 onward calves mounted an immune response to S. aureus due to natural exposure. Next, an experimental immunization trial was set up using 8-week-old heifer calves (n = 16), half of which were immunized with the immune evasion molecules Efb and LukM. Immunization was repeated after one year and before parturition and humoral and cellular immunity specific for Efb and LukM was determined throughout the study. Post-partum, antibody levels against LukM and EfB were significantly higher in serum, colostrum and milk in the experimentally immunized animals compared to animals naturally exposed to S. aureus. LukM specific IL17a responses were also significantly higher in the immunized cows post-partum.

Conclusions: Experimental immunization with staphylococcal immune evasion molecules starting before natural exposure resulted in significantly higher antibody levels against Efb and LukM around parturition in serum as well as the site of infection, i.e. in colostrum and milk, compared to natural exposure to S. aureus. This study showed that it is practically feasible to vaccinate S. aureus naïve cattle and that experimental immunization induced a humoral immune response that differed from that after natural exposure only.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12917-018-1765-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323680PMC
January 2019

A canine keratinocyte cell line expresses antimicrobial peptide and cytokine genes upon stimulation with bacteria, microbial ligands and recombinant cytokines.

Vet Immunol Immunopathol 2018 Dec 13;206:35-40. Epub 2018 Nov 13.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Division of Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CL, The Netherlands; Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, 0110, South Africa. Electronic address:

Keratinocytes (KC) are the main cellular components of the stratum corneum that constitutes a solid physical skin barrier representing the first line of defense against pathogens. Moreover, KC are potent producers of inflammatory mediators and antimicrobial peptides (AMP) when activated through their pattern recognition receptors. In atopic dermatitis (AD) the protective skin barrier may be compromised due to barrier disruption, secondary infection and accelerated secretion of inflammatory cytokines which may also affect AMP expression in the skin. In the present study, we addressed the responses of a canine KC cell line upon exposure to Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, typically found on canine atopic skin during secondary infections, and stimulation by individual AD-associated ligands and cytokines. All stimuli induced a significant increase in expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine genes tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-8, but with different kinetics. Limited effects were observed on AMP gene expression except for K9CATH which was significantly upregulated upon bacterial infection but with none of the individual AD-associated ligands. Interestingly, K9CATH possessed antimicrobial activity towards Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, indicating that K9CATH expression is a specific defense reaction towards bacterial infection and not part of a general pro-inflammatory profile of KC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vetimm.2018.11.009DOI Listing
December 2018

GG-Derived Soluble Mediators Modulate Adaptive Immune Cells.

Front Immunol 2018 10;9:1546. Epub 2018 Jul 10.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Probiotics and probiotic-related nutritional interventions have been described to have beneficial effects on immune homeostasis and gut health. In previous studies, GG (LGG) soluble mediators (LSM) have been demonstrated to exert beneficial effects in preclinical models of allergic sensitization, bacterial infection, and intestinal barrier function. In the context of allergic diseases, differentiation of dendritic cells (DCs) and their interactions with T cell populations are crucial for driving tolerogenic responses. In this study, we set out to evaluate whether these LSM can modulate DC maturation and have an impact on prompting protective and/or tolerogenic T cell responses. Monocytes were isolated from PBMC of healthy blood donors and cultured in the presence of GM-CSF, IL-4, and LSM or unconditioned bacterial culture medium control (UCM) during 6 days to induce DC differentiation. Subsequently, these DCs were matured in the presence of TNF-α for 1 day and analyzed for their phenotype and ability to induce autologous T cell activation and differentiation to model recall antigens. After 7 days of co-culture, T cells were analyzed for activation and differentiation by flow cytometry of intracellular cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-10, and IL-17A), activation markers (CD25), and Foxp3+ expression. LSM did not alter DC numbers or maturation status. However, these DCs did show improved capacity to induce a T cell response as shown by increased IL-2 and IFN-γ producing T cell populations upon stimulation with recall antigens. These enhanced recall responses coincided with enhanced Foxp3+ expression that was not observed when T cells were cultured in the presence of UCM-treated DCs. By contrast, the number of activated T cells (determined by CD25 expression) was only slightly increased. In conclusion, this study reveals that LSM can influence adaptive immune responses as shown by the modulation of DC functionality. These mechanisms might contribute to previous observed effects in animal models . Altogether, these results suggest that LSM may provide an alternative to live probiotics in case life bacteria may not be used because of health conditions, although further clinical testing is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01546DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048560PMC
July 2018

Immunogenicity Testing of Lipidoids In Vitro and In Silico: Modulating Lipidoid-Mediated TLR4 Activation by Nanoparticle Design.

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2018 Jun 13;11:159-169. Epub 2018 Feb 13.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Therapeutics based on small interfering RNA (siRNA) have promising potential as antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents. To deliver siRNA across cell membranes to reach the RNAi pathway in the cytosol of target cells, non-viral nanoparticulate delivery approaches are explored. Recently, we showed that encapsulation of siRNA in lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPNs), based on poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and cationic lipid-like materials (lipidoids), remarkably enhances intracellular delivery of siRNA as compared to siRNA delivery with LPNs modified with dioleoyltrimethylammoniumpropane (DOTAP) as the lipid component. However, the potential immune modulation by these cationic lipids remains unexplored. By testing lipidoids and DOTAP for innate immune-receptor-activating properties in vitro, we found that neither lipidoids nor DOTAP activate human Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2, 3, 7, and 9. However, in contrast to DOTAP, lipidoids are strong agonists for TLR4 and activate murine antigen-presenting cells in vitro. This agonistic effect was further confirmed in silico using a prediction model based on crystal structures. Also, lipidoids formulated as lipoplexes or as stable nucleic acid lipid particles, which was the reference formulation for siRNA delivery, proved to activate TLR4. However, by combining lipidoids with PLGA into LPNs, TLR4 activation was abrogated. Thus, lipidoid-mediated TLR4 activation during siRNA delivery may be modulated via optimization of the formulation design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.omtn.2018.02.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992342PMC
June 2018

Routing dependent immune responses after experimental R848-adjuvated vaccination.

Vaccine 2018 03;36(11):1405-1413

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Most traditional vaccines are administered via the intramuscular route. Other routes of administration however, can induce equal or improved protective memory responses and might provide practical advantages such as needle-free immunization, dose sparing and induction of tissue-specific (mucosal) immunity. Here we explored the differences in immunological outcome after immunization with model antigens via two promising immunization routes (intradermal and intranasal) with or without the experimental adjuvant and TLR7/8-agonist R848. Because the adaptive immune response is largely determined by the local innate cells at the site of immunization, the effect of R848-adjuvation on local cellular recruitment, antigenic uptake by antigen-presenting cells and the initiation of the adaptive response were analyzed for the two routes of administration. We show a general immune-stimulating effect of R848 irrespective of the route of administration. This includes influx of neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells to the respective draining lymph nodes and an increase in antigen-positive antigen-presenting cells which leads for both intradermal and intranasal immunization to a mainly T1 response. Furthermore, both intranasal and intradermal R848-adjuvated immunization induces a local shift in DC subsets; frequencies of CD11bDC increase whereas CD103DC decrease in relative abundance in the draining lymph node. In spite of these similarities, the outcome of immune responses differs for the respective immunization routes in both magnitude and cytokine profile. Via the intradermal route, the induced T-cell response is higher compared to that after intranasal immunization, which corresponds with the local higher uptake of antigen by antigen-presenting cells after intradermal immunization. Furthermore, R848-adjuvation enhances ex vivo IL-10 and IL-17 production after intranasal, but not intradermal, T-cell activation. Quite the opposite, intradermal immunization leads to a decrease in IL-10 production by the vaccine induced T-cells. This knowledge may lead to a more rational development of novel adjuvanted vaccines administered via non-traditional routes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.01.077DOI Listing
March 2018

The Immunomodulatory Potential of tolDCs Loaded with Heat Shock Proteins.

Front Immunol 2017 30;8:1690. Epub 2017 Nov 30.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Disease suppressive T cell regulation may depend on cognate interactions of regulatory T cells with self-antigens that are abundantly expressed in the inflamed tissues. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are by their nature upregulated in stressed cells and therefore abundantly present as potential targets for such regulation. HSP immunizations have led to inhibition of experimentally induced inflammatory conditions in various models. However, re-establishment of tolerance in the presence of an ongoing inflammatory process has remained challenging. Since tolerogenic DCs (tolDCs) have the combined capacity of mitigating antigen-specific inflammatory responses and of endowing T cells with regulatory potential, it seems attractive to combine the anti-inflammatory qualities of tolDCs with those of HSPs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01690DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717764PMC
November 2017

The Enigma of Heat Shock Proteins in Immune Tolerance.

Front Immunol 2017 21;8:1599. Epub 2017 Nov 21.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FVM), Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

The fundamental problem of autoimmune diseases is the failure of the immune system to downregulate its own potentially dangerous cells, which leads to destruction of tissue expressing the relevant autoantigens. Current immunosuppressive therapies offer relief but fail to restore the basic condition of self-tolerance. They do not induce long-term physiological regulation resulting in medication-free disease remissions. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) have shown to possess the capacity of inducing lasting protective immune responses in models of experimental autoimmune diseases. Especially mycobacterial HSP60 and HSP70 were shown to induce disease inhibitory IL-10-producing regulatory T cells in many different models. This in itself may seem enigmatic, since based on earlier studies, HSPs were also coined sometimes as pro-inflammatory damage-associated molecular patterns. First clinical trials with HSPs in rheumatoid arthritis and type I diabetes have also indicated their potential to restore tolerance in autoimmune diseases. Data obtained from the models have suggested three aspects of HSP as being critical for this tolerance promoting potential: 1. evolutionary conservation, 2. most frequent cytosolic/nuclear MHC class II natural ligand source, and 3. upregulation under (inflammatory) stress. The combination of these three aspects, which are each relatively unique for HSP, may provide an explanation for the enigmatic immune tolerance promoting potential of HSP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01599DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702443PMC
November 2017

Altered lipid properties of the stratum corneum in Canine Atopic Dermatitis.

Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr 2018 Feb 22;1860(2):526-533. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Faculty of Science, Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, Cluster BioTherapeutics, Department of Drug Delivery Technology, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Skin barrier disruption plays a role in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD) in humans. However, little is known about skin barrier (dys-) function in Canine Atopic Dermatitis. The properties of lipids located in the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC) are considered to be important for the barrier. In the present study the lipid composition and lipid organization of the SC of AD dogs and control dogs were examined. The lipid composition of lesional AD skin as compared to control skin, showed a reduced free fatty acid level and a decreased ratio of ceramide[NS] C44/C34, in which C44 and C34 are the total numbers of carbon atoms of the sphingosine (S) and non-hydroxy (N) acyl chains. As a consequence of the observed changes in lipid composition in AD lesional skin the lamellar organization of lipids altered and a shift from orthorhombic to hexagonal lipid packing was monitored. Simultaneously an increased conformational disordering occurred. These changes are expected to compromise the integrity of the skin barrier. The C44/C34 chain length ratio of ceramide[NS] also showed a decreasing nonlinear relationship with the AD severity score (CADESI). Taken together, canine atopic skin showed alterations in SC lipid properties, similar to the changes observed in atopic dermatitis in humans, that correlated with a disruption of the skin barrier. Hence lipids play an important role in the pathogenesis of Canine Atopic Dermatitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2017.11.013DOI Listing
February 2018

T Cell-Mediated Chronic Inflammatory Diseases Are Candidates for Therapeutic Tolerance Induction with Heat Shock Proteins.

Front Immunol 2017 26;8:1408. Epub 2017 Oct 26.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Failing immunological tolerance for critical self-antigens is the problem underlying most chronic inflammatory diseases of humans. Despite the success of novel immunosuppressive biological drugs, the so-called biologics, in the treatment of diseases such rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and type 1 diabetes, none of these approaches does lead to a permanent state of medicine free disease remission. Therefore, there is a need for therapies that restore physiological mechanisms of self-tolerance. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) have shown disease suppressive activities in many models of experimental autoimmune diseases through the induction of regulatory T cells (Tregs). Also in first clinical trials with HSP-based peptides in RA and diabetes, the induction of Tregs was noted. Due to their exceptionally high degree of evolutionary conservation, HSP protein sequences (peptides) are shared between the microbiota-associated bacterial species and the self-HSP in the tissues. Therefore, Treg mechanisms, such as those induced and maintained by gut mucosal tolerance for the microbiota, can play a role by targeting the more conserved HSP peptide sequences in the inflamed tissues. In addition, the stress upregulated presence of HSP in these tissues may well assist the targeting of the HSP induced Treg specifically to the sites of inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01408DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5662553PMC
October 2017

Hollow microneedle-mediated intradermal delivery of model vaccine antigen-loaded PLGA nanoparticles elicits protective T cell-mediated immunity to an intracellular bacterium.

J Control Release 2017 Nov 14;266:27-35. Epub 2017 Sep 14.

Department of Infectious diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

The skin is an attractive organ for immunization due to the presence of a large number of epidermal and dermal antigen-presenting cells. Hollow microneedles allow for precise and non-invasive intradermal delivery of vaccines. In this study, ovalbumin (OVA)-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles with and without TLR3 agonist poly(I:C) were prepared and administered intradermally by hollow microneedles. The capacity of the PLGA nanoparticles to induce a cytotoxic T cell response, contributing to protection against intracellular pathogens, was examined. We show that a single injection of OVA-loaded PLGA nanoparticles, compared to soluble OVA, primed both adoptively transferred antigen-specific naïve transgenic CD8 and CD4 T cells with markedly high efficiency. Applying a triple immunization protocol, PLGA nanoparticles primed also endogenous OVA-specific CD8 T cells. Immune response, following immunization with in particular anionic PLGA nanoparticles co-encapsulated with OVA and poly(I:C), provided protection against a recombinant strain of the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, secreting OVA. Taken together, we show that PLGA nanoparticle formulation is an excellent delivery system for protein antigen into the skin and that protective cellular immune responses can be induced using hollow microneedles for intradermal immunizations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2017.09.017DOI Listing
November 2017

Targeting of tolerogenic dendritic cells towards heat-shock proteins: a novel therapeutic strategy for autoimmune diseases?

Immunology 2018 01 18;153(1):51-59. Epub 2017 Sep 18.

Musculoskeletal Research Group, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDCs) are a promising therapeutic tool to restore immune tolerance in autoimmune diseases. The rationale of using tolDCs is that they can specifically target the pathogenic T-cell response while leaving other, protective, T-cell responses intact. Several ways of generating therapeutic tolDCs have been described, but whether these tolDCs should be loaded with autoantigen(s), and if so, with which autoantigen(s), remains unclear. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are not commonly defined by a single, universal, autoantigen. A possible solution is to use surrogate autoantigens for loading of tolDCs. We propose that heat-shock proteins may be a relevant surrogate antigen, as they are evolutionarily conserved between species, ubiquitously expressed in inflamed tissues and have been shown to induce regulatory T cells, ameliorating disease in various arthritis mouse models. In this review, we provide an overview on how immune tolerance may be restored by tolDCs, the problem of selecting relevant autoantigens for loading of tolDCs, and why heat-shock proteins could be used as surrogate autoantigens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imm.12811DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721256PMC
January 2018

Regulatory T cell frequencies and phenotypes following anti-viral vaccination.

PLoS One 2017 28;12(6):e0179942. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Division of Immunology, Department of Infectious Diseases & Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Regulatory T cells (Treg) function in the prevention of excessive inflammation and maintenance of immunological homeostasis. However, these cells may also interfere with resolution of infections or with immune reactions following vaccination. Effects of Treg on vaccine responses are nowadays investigated, but the impact of vaccination on Treg homeostasis is still largely unknown. This may be a relevant safety aspect, since loss of tolerance through reduced Treg may trigger autoimmunity. In exploratory clinical trials, healthy adults were vaccinated with an influenza subunit vaccine plus or minus the adjuvant MF59®, an adjuvanted hepatitis B subunit vaccine or a live attenuated yellow fever vaccine. Frequencies and phenotypes of resting (rTreg) and activated (aTreg) subpopulations of circulating CD4+ Treg were determined and compared to placebo immunization. Vaccination with influenza vaccines did not result in significant changes in Treg frequencies and phenotypes. Vaccination with the hepatitis B vaccine led to slightly increased frequencies of both rTreg and aTreg subpopulations and a decrease in expression of functionality marker CD39 on aTreg. The live attenuated vaccine resulted in a decrease in rTreg frequency, and an increase in expression of activation marker CD25 on both subpopulations, possibly indicating a conversion from resting to migratory aTreg due to vaccine virus replication. To study the more local effects of vaccination on Treg in lymphoid organs, we immunized mice and analyzed the CD4+ Treg frequency and phenotype in draining lymph nodes and spleen. Vaccination resulted in a transient local decrease in Treg frequency in lymph nodes, followed by a systemic Treg increase in the spleen. Taken together, we showed that vaccination with vaccines with an already established safe profile have only minimal impact on frequencies and characteristics of Treg over time. These findings may serve as a bench-mark of inter-individual variation of Treg frequencies and phenotypes following vaccination.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0179942PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489208PMC
September 2017

Bystander activation of irrelevant CD4+ T cells following antigen-specific vaccination occurs in the presence and absence of adjuvant.

PLoS One 2017 10;12(5):e0177365. Epub 2017 May 10.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory diseases (AID) are prevalent diseases which can severely impact the quality of life of those that suffer from the disease. In most cases, the etiology of these conditions have remained unclear. Immune responses that take place e.g. during natural infection or after vaccination are often linked with the development or exacerbation of AID. It is highly debated if vaccines induce or aggravate AID and in particular adjuvants are mentioned as potential cause. Since vaccines are given on a large scale to healthy individuals but also to elderly and immunocompromised individuals, more research is warranted. Non-specific induction of naïve or memory autoreactive T cells via bystander activation is one of the proposed mechanisms of how vaccination might be involved in AID. During bystander activation, T cells unrelated to the antigen presented can be activated without (strong) T cell receptor (TCR) ligation, but via signals derived from the ongoing response directed against the vaccine-antigen or adjuvant at hand. In this study we have set up a TCR transgenic T cell transfer mouse model by which we were able to measure local bystander activation of transferred and labeled CD4+ T cells. Intramuscular injection with the highly immunogenic Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) led to local in vivo proliferation and activation of intravenously transferred CD4+ T cells in the iliac lymph node. This local bystander activation was also observed after CFA prime and Incomplete Freund's Adjuvant (IFA) boost injection. Furthermore, we showed that an antigen specific response is sufficient for the induction of a bystander activation response and the general, immune stimulating effect of CFA or IFA does not appear to increase this effect. In other words, no evidence was obtained that adjuvation of antigen specific responses is essential for bystander activation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177365PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5425230PMC
September 2017

Dynamics of APC recruitment at the site of injection following injection of vaccine adjuvants.

Vaccine 2017 03 17;35(12):1622-1629. Epub 2017 Feb 17.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Vaccines often contain adjuvants to strengthen the response to the vaccine antigen. However, their modes of action at the site of injection (SOI) are poorly understood. Therefore, we assessed the local effects of adjuvant on the innate immune system in mice. We investigated the safe, widely used adjuvants MF59 and aluminum hydroxide (alum), as well as trehalose-6,6'-dibehenate (TDB), Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) and the Toll-Like-Receptor-ligands lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and Pam3CysSerLys4 (PamCSK). We assessed muscle immune cell infiltration after adjuvant injection and observed 16h post immunization (hpi) an increased influx with CFA, MF59 and TDB, but not with alum, LPS or PamCSK. An elevated influx with the latter three became visible only 72hpi. Contribution of granulocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells to the influx differed per adjuvant and in time. Adjuvants generally induced a local pro-inflammatory micro-milieu that was transient except for CFA and TDB. The gene expression of CXCL-1, CCL-2 and CCL-5, involved in recruitment of immune cells, varied per adjuvant and corresponded grossly with the observed influx of granulocytes and monocytes/macrophages. Muscles injected with CFA or MF59 (when co-injected with peptide) resulted in APC ex vivo capable to induce proliferation of peptide-specific T-cells. By adding in vitro an excess of peptide to the APC/T cell co-cultures, we observed an adjuvant-enhanced co-stimulation or antigen presentation by APC after CFA- but not MF59-injection. After TDB-injection this effect was observed only at 72hpi, but not 24hpi. Thus the cellular influx profile and the local cytokine and chemokine micro-milieu in the muscle were strongly influenced by the type of adjuvant. Additionally, the capacity of muscle APC to load and present antigen was affected by the adjuvant. These findings may assist the development of novel adjuvanted vaccines in a more rational manner.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.02.005DOI Listing
March 2017

Minimum information about tolerogenic antigen-presenting cells (MITAP): a first step towards reproducibility and standardisation of cellular therapies.

PeerJ 2016 30;4:e2300. Epub 2016 Aug 30.

Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

Cellular therapies with tolerogenic antigen-presenting cells (tolAPC) show great promise for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and for the prevention of destructive immune responses after transplantation. The methodologies for generating tolAPC vary greatly between different laboratories, making it difficult to compare data from different studies; thus constituting a major hurdle for the development of standardised tolAPC therapeutic products. Here we describe an initiative by members of the tolAPC field to generate a minimum information model for tolAPC (MITAP), providing a reporting framework that will make differences and similarities between tolAPC products transparent. In this way, MITAP constitutes a first but important step towards the production of standardised and reproducible tolAPC for clinical application.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2300DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5012269PMC
September 2016

APL1, an altered peptide ligand derived from human heat-shock protein 60, increases the frequency of Tregs and its suppressive capacity against antigen responding effector CD4 + T cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Cell Stress Chaperones 2016 07 30;21(4):735-44. Epub 2016 May 30.

Biomedical Research Department, Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, P.O. Box 6162, Havana, 11300, Cuba.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by a chronic relapsing-remitting joint inflammation. Perturbations in the balance between CD4 + T cells producing IL-17 and CD4 + CD25(high)FoxP3 + Tregs correlate with irreversible bone and cartilage destruction in RA. APL1 is an altered peptide ligand derived from a CD4+ T-cell epitope of human HSP60, an autoantigen expressed in the inflamed synovium, which increases the frequency of CD4 + CD25(high)FoxP3+ Tregs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from RA patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the suppressive capacity of Tregs induced by APL1 on proliferation of effector CD4+ T cells using co-culture experiments. Enhanced Treg-mediated suppression was observed in APL1-treated cultures compared with cells cultured only with media. Subsequent analyses using autologous cross-over experiments showed that the enhanced Treg suppression in APL1-treated cultures could reflect increased suppressive function of Tregs against APL1-responsive T cells. On the other hand, APL1-treatment had a significant effect reducing IL-17 levels produced by effector CD4+ T cells. Hence, this peptide has the ability to increase the frequency of Tregs and their suppressive properties whereas effector T cells produce less IL-17. Thus, we propose that APL1 therapy could help to ameliorate the pathogenic Th17/Treg balance in RA patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12192-016-0698-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908004PMC
July 2016

Generation of the First TCR Transgenic Mouse with CD4(+) T Cells Recognizing an Anti-inflammatory Regulatory T Cell-Inducing Hsp70 Peptide.

Front Immunol 2016 9;7:90. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University , Utrecht , Netherlands.

Antigen-specific regulatory T cells (Tregs) directed at self-antigens are difficult to study since suitable specific tools to isolate and characterize these cells are lacking. A T cell receptor (TCR)-transgenic mouse would generate possibilities to study such -antigen-specific T cells. As was shown previously, immunization with the mycobacterial heat shock protein (Hsp) 70-derived peptide B29 and its mouse homologs mB29a and mB29b induced anti-inflammatory responses. Furthermore, B29 induced antigen--specific Tregs in vivo. To study mB29b-specific Tregs, we isolated the TCR from T cell hybridomas generated against mB29b and produced a TCR transgenic mouse that expresses a MHC-class II restricted mB29b-specific TCR. These TCR transgenic CD4(+) T cells were found to cross-react with the B29 epitope as identified with peptide-induced proliferation and IL-2 production. Thus, we have successfully generated a novel mouse model with antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells that recognize self and bacterial Hsp 70-derived peptides. With this novel mouse model, it will be possible to study primary antigen-specific T cells with specificity for a regulatory Hsp70 T cell epitope. This will enable the isolation and characterization CD4(+)CD25(+) Tregs with a proven specificity. This will provide useful knowledge of the induction, activation, and mode of action of Hsp70-specific Tregs, for instance, during experimental arthritis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2016.00090DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4783572PMC
March 2016

Surface coating of siRNA-peptidomimetic nano-self-assemblies with anionic lipid bilayers: enhanced gene silencing and reduced adverse effects in vitro.

Nanoscale 2015 Dec;7(46):19687-98

Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 2, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.

Cationic vectors have demonstrated the potential to facilitate intracellular delivery of therapeutic oligonucleotides. However, enhanced transfection efficiency is usually associated with adverse effects, which also proves to be a challenge for vectors based on cationic peptides. In this study a series of proteolytically stable palmitoylated α-peptide/β-peptoid peptidomimetics with a systematically varied number of repeating lysine and homoarginine residues was shown to self-assemble with small interfering RNA (siRNA). The resulting well-defined nanocomplexes were coated with anionic lipids giving rise to net anionic liposomes. These complexes and the corresponding liposomes were optimized towards efficient gene silencing and low adverse effects. The optimal anionic liposomes mediated a high silencing effect, which was comparable to that of the control (cationic Lipofectamine 2000), and did not display any noticeable cytotoxicity and immunogenicity in vitro. In contrast, the corresponding nanocomplexes mediated a reduced silencing effect with a more narrow safety window. The surface coating with anionic lipid bilayers led to partial decomplexation of the siRNA-peptidomimetic nanocomplex core of the liposomes, which facilitated siRNA release. Additionally, the optimal anionic liposomes showed efficient intracellular uptake and endosomal escape. Therefore, these findings suggest that a more efficacious and safe formulation can be achieved by surface coating of the siRNA-peptidomimetic nano-self-assemblies with anionic lipid bilayers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c5nr04807aDOI Listing
December 2015

Autologous stem cell transplantation aids autoimmune patients by functional renewal and TCR diversification of regulatory T cells.

Blood 2016 Jan 19;127(1):91-101. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

Laboratory of Translational Immunology, Department of Paediatric Immunology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands;

Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is increasingly considered for patients with severe autoimmune diseases whose prognosis is poor with standard treatments. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are thought to be important for disease remission after HSCT. However, eliciting the role of donor and host Tregs in autologous HSCT is not possible in humans due to the autologous nature of the intervention. Therefore, we investigated their role during immune reconstitution and re-establishment of immune tolerance and their therapeutic potential following congenic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in a proteoglycan-induced arthritis (PGIA) mouse model. In addition, we determined Treg T-cell receptor (TCR) CDR3 diversity before and after HSCT in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and juvenile dermatomyositis. In the PGIA BMT model, after an initial predominance of host Tregs, graft-derived Tregs started dominating and displayed a more stable phenotype with better suppressive capacity. Patient samples revealed a striking lack of diversity of the Treg repertoire before HSCT. This ameliorated after HSCT, confirming reset of the Treg compartment following HSCT. In the mouse model, a therapeutic approach was initiated by infusing extra Foxp3(GFP+) Tregs during BMT. Infusion of Foxp3(GFP+) Tregs did not elicit additional clinical improvement but conversely delayed reconstitution of the graft-derived T-cell compartment. These data indicate that HSCT-mediated amelioration of autoimmune disease involves renewal of the Treg pool. In addition, infusion of extra Tregs during BMT results in a delayed reconstitution of T-cell compartments. Therefore, Treg therapy may hamper development of long-term tolerance and should be approached with caution in the clinical autologous setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2015-06-649145DOI Listing
January 2016

An Arthritis-Suppressive and Treg Cell-Inducing CD4+ T Cell Epitope Is Functional in the Context of HLA-Restricted T Cell Responses.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2016 Mar;68(3):639-47

Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: We previously showed that mycobacterial Hsp70-derived peptide B29 induced B29-specific Treg cells that suppressed experimental arthritis in mice via cross-recognition of their mammalian Hsp70 homologs. The aim of the current study was to characterize B29 binding and specific CD4+ T cell responses in the context of human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules.

Methods: Competitive binding assays were performed to examine binding of peptide B29 and its mammalian homologs to HLA molecules. The effect of B29 immunization in HLA-DQ8-transgenic mice with proteoglycan-induced arthritis was assessed, followed by ex vivo restimulation with B29 to examine the T cell response. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were used to investigate the presence of B29-specific T cells with immunoregulatory potential.

Results: The binding affinity of the B29 peptide was high to moderate for multiple HLA-DR and HLA-DQ molecules, including those highly associated with rheumatoid arthritis. This binding was considered to be functional, because B29 immunization resulted in the suppression of arthritis and T cell responses in HLA-DQ8-transgenic mice. In humans, we demonstrated the presence and expansion of B29-specific CD4+ T cells, which were cross-reactive with the mammalian homologs. Using HLA-DR4+ tetramers specific for B29 or the mammalian homolog mB29b, we showed expansion of cross-reactive T cells, especially the human FoxP3+ CD4+CD25+ T cell population, after in vitro stimulation with B29.

Conclusion: These results demonstrated a conserved fine specificity and functionality of B29-induced Treg cell responses in the context of the human MHC. Based on these findings, a path for translation of the experimental findings for B29 into a clinical immunomodulatory therapeutic approach is within reach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.39444DOI Listing
March 2016

In Vivo Induction of Functionally Suppressive Induced Regulatory T Cells from CD4+CD25- T Cells Using an Hsp70 Peptide.

PLoS One 2015 24;10(6):e0128373. Epub 2015 Jun 24.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Therapeutic peptides that target antigen-specific regulatory T cells (Tregs) can suppress experimental autoimmune diseases. The heat shock protein (Hsp) 70, with its expression elevated in inflamed tissue, is a suitable candidate antigen because administration of both bacterial and mouse Hsp70 peptides has been shown to induce strong immune responses and to reduce inflammation via the activation or induction of Hsp specific Tregs. Although two subsets of Tregs exist, little is known about which subset of Tregs are activated by Hsp70 epitopes. Therefore, we set out to determine whether natural nTregs (derived from the thymus), or induced iTregs (formed in the periphery from CD4+CD25- naïve T cells) were targeted after Hsp70-peptide immunization. We immunized mice with the previously identified Hsp70 T cell epitope B29 and investigated the formation of functional iTregs by using an in vitro suppression assay and adoptive transfer therapy in mice with experimental arthritis. To study the in vivo induction of Tregs after peptide immunization, we depleted CD25+ cells prior to immunization, allowing the in vivo formation of Tregs from CD4+CD25- precursors. This approach allowed us to study in vivo B29-induced Tregs and to compare these cells with Tregs from non-depleted immunized mice. Our results show that using this approach, immunization induced CD4+CD25+ T cells in the periphery, and that these cells were suppressive in vitro. Additionally, adoptive transfer of B29-specific iTregs suppressed disease in a mouse model of arthritis. This study shows that immunization of mice with Hsp70 epitope B29 induces functionally suppressive iTregs from CD4+CD25- T cells.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128373PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4481099PMC
March 2016

DEC205+ Dendritic Cell-Targeted Tolerogenic Vaccination Promotes Immune Tolerance in Experimental Autoimmune Arthritis.

J Immunol 2015 May 10;194(10):4804-13. Epub 2015 Apr 10.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, 3584 CL Utrecht, the Netherlands;

Previous studies in mouse models of autoimmune diabetes and encephalomyelitis have indicated that the selective delivery of self-antigen to the endocytic receptor DEC205 on steady-state dendritic cells (DCs) may represent a suitable approach to induce Ag-specific immune tolerance. In this study, we aimed to examine whether DEC205(+) DC targeting of a single immunodominant peptide derived from human cartilage proteoglycan (PG) can promote immune tolerance in PG-induced arthritis (PGIA). Besides disease induction by immunization with whole PG protein with a high degree of antigenic complexity, PGIA substantially differs from previously studied autoimmune models not only in the target tissue of autoimmune destruction but also in the nature of pathogenic immune effector cells. Our results show that DEC205(+) DC targeting of the PG peptide 70-84 is sufficient to efficiently protect against PGIA development. Complementary mechanistic studies support a model in which DEC205(+) DC targeting leads to insufficient germinal center B cell support by PG-specific follicular helper T cells. Consequently, impaired germinal center formation results in lower Ab titers, severely compromising the development of PGIA. Overall, this study further corroborates the potential of prospective tolerogenic DEC205(+) DC vaccination to interfere with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1400986DOI Listing
May 2015

Distribution patterns of mucosally applied particles and characterization of the antigen presenting cells.

Avian Pathol 2015 31;44(3):222-9. Epub 2015 Mar 31.

a Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine , Utrecht University , Utrecht , The Netherlands.

Mucosal application is the most common route of vaccination to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases like Newcastle disease virus (NDV). To gain more knowledge about distribution and uptake of a vaccine after mucosal vaccination, we studied the distribution pattern of antigens after different mucosal routes of administration. Chickens were intranasally (i.n.), intratracheally (i.t.) or intraocularly (i.o.) inoculated with fluorescent beads and presence of beads in nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT), Harderian gland (HG), conjunctiva-associated lymphoid tissue (CALT), trachea, lungs, air sacs, oesophagus and blood was characterized. The distribution patterns differed significantly between the three inoculation routes. After i.t. inoculation, the beads were mainly retrieved from trachea, NALT and lung. I.n. inoculation resulted in beads found mainly in NALT but detectable in all organs sampled. Finally, after i.o. inoculation, the beads were detected in NALT, CALT, HG and trachea. The highest number of beads was retrieved after i.n. inoculation. Development of novel vaccines requires a comprehensive knowledge of the mucosal immune system in birds in order to target vaccines appropriately and to provide efficient adjuvants. The NALT is likely important for the induction of mucosal immune responses. We therefore studied the phenotype of antigen-presenting cells isolated from NALT after i.n. inoculation with uncoated beads or with NDV-coated beads. Both types of beads were efficiently taken up and low numbers of bead+ cells were detected in all organs sampled. Inoculation with NDV-coated beads resulted in a preferential uptake by NALT antigen-presenting cells as indicated by high percentages of KUL01+-, MHC II+ and CD40+ bead+ cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03079457.2015.1026797DOI Listing
January 2016