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Concept: Cytotoxic T cell


Dendritic cells (DCs) are considered the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APCs), which directly prime or cross-prime MHC I-restricted cytotoxic T cells (CTLs). However, recent evidence suggests the existence of other, as-yet unidentified APCs also able to prime T cells. To identify those APCs, we used adenoviral (rAd) vectors, which do not infect DCs but selectively accumulate in CD169(+) macrophages (MPs). In mice that lack DCs, infection of CD169(+) MPs was sufficient to prime CTLs specific for all epitopes tested. In contrast, CTL responses relying exclusively on cross-presenting DCs were biased to selected strong MHC I-binding peptides only. When both DCs and MPs were absent, no CTL responses could be elicited. Therefore, CD169(+) MPs can be considered APCs that significantly contribute to CTL responses.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Virus, Antigen, Cytotoxic T cell, Dendritic cell, MHC class I, Antigen-presenting cell


It is generally accepted that the success of immunotherapy depends on the presence of tumor-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and the modulation of the tumor environment. In this study, we validated mRNA encoding soluble factors as a tool to modulate the tumor microenvironment to potentiate infiltration of tumor-specific T cells. Intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding a fusion protein consisting of interferon-β and the ectodomain of the transforming growth factor-β receptor II, referred to as Fβ2, showed therapeutic potential. The treatment efficacy was dependent on CD8+ T cells and could be improved through blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 interactions. In vitro studies revealed that administration of Fβ2 to tumor cells resulted in a reduced proliferation and increased expression of MHC I but also PD-L1. Importantly, Fβ2 enhanced the antigen presenting capacity of dendritic cells, whilst reducing the suppressive activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. In conclusion, these data suggest that intratumoral delivery of mRNA encoding soluble proteins, such as Fβ2, can modulate the tumor microenvironment, leading to effective antitumor T cell responses, which can be further potentiated through combination therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, Cytotoxic T cell, MHC class I


The respiratory tract is in constant contact with inhaled antigens from the external environment. In order to shape its line of defense, it is populated by various types of immune cells. Taking into account the scientific breakthroughs of nanomedicine and nanoparticle drug delivery, we can think of the respiratory tract as an ideal target organ to study and develop nanocarrier-based vaccines to treat respiratory tract disorders. Nanoparticles have been proven capable of specific cell targeting and, when suitably engineered, are able to induce an immunomodulatory effect. The aim of this review is to highlight in vitro approaches to the study of nanoparticle-lung immune cell interactions and recent advances in the targeting of immune cells using nanoparticle-based systems.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Blood, Immunology, Nanotechnology, Cytotoxic T cell, Respiratory system


Lymphoid organs, in which antigen presenting cells (APCs) are in close proximity to T cells, are the ideal microenvironment for efficient priming and amplification of T-cell responses. However, the systemic delivery of vaccine antigens into dendritic cells (DCs) is hampered by various technical challenges. Here we show that DCs can be targeted precisely and effectively in vivo using intravenously administered RNA-lipoplexes (RNA-LPX) based on well-known lipid carriers by optimally adjusting net charge, without the need for functionalization of particles with molecular ligands. The LPX protects RNA from extracellular ribonucleases and mediates its efficient uptake and expression of the encoded antigen by DC populations and macrophages in various lymphoid compartments. RNA-LPX triggers interferon-α (IFNα) release by plasmacytoid DCs and macrophages. Consequently, DC maturation in situ and inflammatory immune mechanisms reminiscent of those in the early systemic phase of viral infection are activated. We show that RNA-LPX encoding viral or mutant neo-antigens or endogenous self-antigens induce strong effector and memory T-cell responses, and mediate potent IFNα-dependent rejection of progressive tumours. A phase I dose-escalation trial testing RNA-LPX that encode shared tumour antigens is ongoing. In the first three melanoma patients treated at a low-dose level, IFNα and strong antigen-specific T-cell responses were induced, supporting the identified mode of action and potency. As any polypeptide-based antigen can be encoded as RNA, RNA-LPX represent a universally applicable vaccine class for systemic DC targeting and synchronized induction of both highly potent adaptive as well as type-I-IFN-mediated innate immune mechanisms for cancer immunotherapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, White blood cell, Bacteria, Adaptive immune system, Antigen, Cytotoxic T cell, Antigen-presenting cell


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) use polarized secretion to rapidly destroy virally infected and tumor cells. To understand the temporal relationships between key events leading to secretion, we used high-resolution 4D imaging. CTLs approached targets with actin-rich projections at the leading edge, creating an initially actin-enriched contact with rearward-flowing actin. Within 1 min, cortical actin reduced across the synapse, T cell receptors (TCRs) clustered centrally to form the central supramolecular activation cluster (cSMAC), and centrosome polarization began. Granules clustered around the moving centrosome within 2.5 min and reached the synapse after 6 min. TCR-bearing intracellular vesicles were delivered to the cSMAC as the centrosome docked. We found that the centrosome and granules were delivered to an area of membrane with reduced cortical actin density and phospholipid PIP2. These data resolve the temporal order of events during synapse maturation in 4D and reveal a critical role for actin depletion in regulating secretion.

Concepts: White blood cell, Cell, Signal transduction, Cell membrane, Cell biology, Natural killer cell, Cytotoxic T cell, Thymus


Four Ebola patients received care at Emory University Hospital, presenting a unique opportunity to examine the cellular immune responses during acute Ebola virus infection. We found striking activation of both B and T cells in all four patients. Plasmablast frequencies were 10-50% of B cells, compared with less than 1% in healthy individuals. Many of these proliferating plasmablasts were IgG-positive, and this finding coincided with the presence of Ebola virus-specific IgG in the serum. Activated CD4 T cells ranged from 5 to 30%, compared with 1-2% in healthy controls. The most pronounced responses were seen in CD8 T cells, with over 50% of the CD8 T cells expressing markers of activation and proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest that all four patients developed robust immune responses during the acute phase of Ebola virus infection, a finding that would not have been predicted based on our current assumptions about the highly immunosuppressive nature of Ebola virus. Also, quite surprisingly, we found sustained immune activation after the virus was cleared from the plasma, observed most strikingly in the persistence of activated CD8 T cells, even 1 mo after the patients' discharge from the hospital. These results suggest continued antigen stimulation after resolution of the disease. From these convalescent time points, we identified CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses to several Ebola virus proteins, most notably the viral nucleoprotein. Knowledge of the viral proteins targeted by T cells during natural infection should be useful in designing vaccines against Ebola virus.

Concepts: Immune system, Virus, T helper cell, T cell, Antigen, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Cytotoxic T cell


Understanding the host immune response to vaginal exposure to RNA viruses is required to combat sexual transmission of this class of pathogens. In this study, using lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) in wild-type mice, we show that these viruses replicate in the vaginal mucosa with minimal induction of antiviral interferon and inflammatory response, causing dampened innate-mediated control of viral replication and a failure to mature local antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Enhancement of innate-mediated inflammation in the vaginal mucosa rescues this phenotype and completely inhibits ZIKV replication. To gain a better understanding of how this dampened innate immune activation in the lower female reproductive tract may also affect adaptive immunity, we modeled CD8 T cell responses using vaginal LCMV infection. We show that the lack of APC maturation in the vaginal mucosa leads to a delay in CD8 T cell activation in the draining lymph node and hinders the timely appearance of effector CD8 T cells in vaginal mucosa, thus further delaying viral control in this tissue. Our study demonstrates that vaginal tissue is exceptionally vulnerable to infection by RNA viruses and provides a conceptual framework for the male to female sexual transmission observed during ZIKV infection.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene, Bacteria, Virus, Innate immune system, Natural killer cell, T cell, Cytotoxic T cell


The efficacious delivery of antigens to antigen-presenting cells (APCs), in particular to dendritic cells (DCs), and their subsequent activation remains a significant challenge in the development of effective vaccines. This study highlights the potential of dissolving microneedle arrays laden with nano-encapsulated antigen to increase vaccine immunogenicity by targeting antigen specifically to contiguous DCs networks within the skin. Following in situ uptake, skin resident DCs were able to deliver antigen encapsulated poly-D-L-lactide-co-glycolide (PGLA) nanoparticles to cutaneous draining lymph nodes where they subsequently induced significant expansion of antigen-specific T cells. Moreover, we show that antigen encapsulated nanoparticle vaccination via microneedles generated robust antigen specific cellular immune responses in mice. This approach provided complete protection in vivo against both the development of antigen-expressing B16 melanoma tumours and a murine model of para-influenza, through the activation of antigen-specific cytotoxic CD8+ T cells that resulted in efficient clearance of tumours and virus, respectively. In addition, we show promising findings that nano-encapsulation facilitates antigen retention into skin layers and provides antigen stability in microneedles. Therefore, the use of biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles for selective targeting of antigen to skin DCs subsets through dissolvable MNs provides a promising technology for improved vaccination efficacy, compliance and coverage.

Concepts: Immune system, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Antigen, Cytotoxic T cell, Dendritic cell, Antigen-presenting cell


PURPOSE: To evaluate the effects BRAF inhibition on the tumor microenvironment in patients with metastatic melanoma. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Thirty-five biopsies were collected from 16 patients with metastatic melanoma pretreatment (day 0) and at 10-14 days after initiation of treatment with either BRAF inhibitor alone (vemurafenib) or BRAF + MEK inhibition (dabrafenib + trametinib), and were also taken at time of progression. Biopsies were analyzed for melanoma antigens, T cell markers, and immunomodulatory cytokines. RESULTS: Treatment with either BRAF inhibitor alone or BRAF + MEK inhibitor was associated with an increased expression of melanoma antigens and an increase in CD8+ T cell infiltrate. This was also associated with a decrease in immunosuppressive cytokines (IL-6 & IL-8) and an increase in markers of T cell cytotoxicity. Interestingly, expression of exhaustion markers TIM-3 and PD1 and the immunosuppressive ligand PDL1 were increased on treatment. A decrease in melanoma antigen expression and CD8 T cell infiltrate was noted at time of progression on BRAF inhibitor alone, and was reversed with combined BRAF and MEK inhibition. CONCLUSIONS: Together, this data suggests that treatment with BRAF inhibition enhances melanoma antigen expression and facilitates T cell cytotoxicity and a more favorable tumor microenvironment, providing support for potential synergy of BRAF-targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Interestingly, markers of T cell exhaustion and the immunosuppressive ligand PDL1 are also increased with BRAF inhibition, further implying that immune checkpoint blockade may be critical in augmenting responses to BRAF-targeted therapy in patients with melanoma.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Cancer, Bacteria, Immunology, Antigen, Major histocompatibility complex, Cytotoxic T cell


Lymphomatoid papulosis (LyP) belongs to the spectrum of primary cutaneous CD30-positive lymphoproliferative disorders. Clinically, LyP is characterized by a variable number of self-healing papulo-nodular lesions, with the typical waxing and waning course. Histologically, 4 types (A, B, C, and D) have been delineated. Angioinvasive growth and large ulcers are rare findings in LyP and simulate aggressive lymphoma. We retrospectively analyzed the clinicopathologic and molecular features of angioinvasive LyP in a series of 16 patients. This new form of LyP is characterized by oligolesional papules that rapidly ulcerate and evolve into large necrotic eschar-like lesions with a diameter of 1 to 4 cm and an angiocentric and angiodestructive infiltrate of small-sized to medium-sized atypical lymphocytes expressing CD30 and frequently CD8. As in other forms of LyP, the lesions underwent spontaneous regression after a few weeks. Recurrences were common, but the prognosis was excellent with no extracutaneous spread or disease-related deaths. Complete remission occurred in 9 of 16 patients (56%). This LyP variant should be distinguished from aggressive forms of angiocentric and angiodestructive and cytotoxic T-cell lymphomas. We propose the term LyP type E for this clinically and histologically unusual variant.

Concepts: Lymphocyte, Natural killer cell, B cell, Lymphoma, Cytotoxic T cell, Lymphomatoid papulosis, Follicular lymphoma, Lymphoproliferative disorders