Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Immunology


Human noroviruses (NoVs) are the primary cause of acute gastroenteritis and are characterized by antigenic variation between genogroups and genotypes and antigenic drift of strains within the predominant GII.4 genotype. In the context of this diversity, an effective NoV vaccine must elicit broadly protective immunity. We used an antibody (Ab) binding blockade assay to measure the potential cross-strain protection provided by a multivalent NoV virus-like particle (VLP) candidate vaccine in human volunteers.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Evolution, Vaccine, Immunology, Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis, Norovirus


To the Editor: Changing patterns of allergic sensitization to pollens have been noted around the world among schoolchildren. We report one associated with unusual winter allergic symptoms in Switzerland. Our group has gathered information on allergic symptoms and serologic findings among 15-year-olds attending school in Grabs, a village in eastern Switzerland,(1) from 1983 through 2007.(2) We measured IgE antibodies to 103 molecular allergens (using ImmunoCAP ISAC) in serum samples obtained from 54 students in 1986 and from 46 students in 2006.(3) In 2010, we retested 12 of the former students (then 39 years old) who in 1986 had had positive . . .

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Immunology, Immunoglobulin E, Allergy, Ragweed, October 12


Polypeptide vaccines effectively activate human T cells but suffer from poor biological stability, which confines both transport logistics and in vivo therapeutic activity. Synthetic biology has the potential to address these limitations through the generation of highly stable antigenic “mimics” using subunits that do not exist in the natural world. We developed a platform based on D-amino acid combinatorial chemistry and used this platform to reverse engineer a fully artificial CD8+ T cell agonist that mirrored the immunogenicity profile of a native epitope blueprint from influenza virus. This nonnatural peptide was highly stable in human serum and gastric acid, reflecting an intrinsic resistance to physical and enzymatic degradation. In vitro, the synthetic agonist stimulated and expanded an archetypal repertoire of polyfunctional human influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells. In vivo, specific responses were elicited in naive humanized mice by subcutaneous vaccination, conferring protection from subsequent lethal influenza challenge. Moreover, the synthetic agonist was immunogenic after oral administration. This proof-of-concept study highlights the power of synthetic biology to expand the horizons of vaccine design and therapeutic delivery.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Amino acid, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Influenza, Influenza vaccine


Insects counter infection with innate immune responses that rely on cells called hemocytes. Hemocytes exist in association with the insect’s open circulatory system and this mode of existence has likely influenced the organization and control of anti-pathogen immune responses. Previous studies reported that pathogens in the mosquito body cavity (hemocoel) accumulate on the surface of the heart. Using novel cell staining, microdissection and intravital imaging techniques, we investigated the mechanism of pathogen accumulation in the pericardium of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and discovered a novel insect immune tissue, herein named periostial hemocytes, that sequesters pathogens as they flow with the hemolymph. Specifically, we show that there are two types of endocytic cells that flank the heart: periostial hemocytes and pericardial cells. Resident periostial hemocytes engage in the rapid phagocytosis of pathogens, and during the course of a bacterial or Plasmodium infection, circulating hemocytes migrate to the periostial regions where they bind the cardiac musculature and each other, and continue the phagocytosis of invaders. Periostial hemocyte aggregation occurs in a time- and infection dose-dependent manner, and once this immune process is triggered, the number of periostial hemocytes remains elevated for the lifetime of the mosquito. Finally, the soluble immune elicitors peptidoglycan and β-1,3-glucan also induce periostial hemocyte aggregation, indicating that this is a generalized and basal immune response that is induced by diverse immune stimuli. These data describe a novel insect cellular immune response that fundamentally relies on the physiological interaction between the insect circulatory and immune systems.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Blood, Malaria, Innate immune system, Heart, Immunology, Humoral immunity


NLRs (nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich-repeat-containing receptors; NOD-like receptors) are a class of pattern recognition receptor (PRR) that respond to host perturbation from either infectious agents or cellular stress. The function of most NLR family members has not been characterized and their role in instructing adaptive immune responses remains unclear. NLRP10 (also known as PYNOD, NALP10, PAN5 and NOD8) is the only NLR lacking the putative ligand-binding leucine-rich-repeat domain, and has been postulated to be a negative regulator of other NLR members, including NLRP3 (refs 4-6). We did not find evidence that NLRP10 functions through an inflammasome to regulate caspase-1 activity nor that it regulates other inflammasomes. Instead, Nlrp10(-/-) mice had a profound defect in helper T-cell-driven immune responses to a diverse array of adjuvants, including lipopolysaccharide, aluminium hydroxide and complete Freund’s adjuvant. Adaptive immunity was impaired in the absence of NLRP10 because of a dendritic cell (DC) intrinsic defect in emigration from inflamed tissues, whereas upregulation of DC costimulatory molecules and chemotaxis to CCR7-dependent and -independent ligands remained intact. The loss of antigen transport to the draining lymph nodes by a subset of migratory DCs resulted in an almost absolute loss in naive CD4(+) T-cell priming, highlighting the critical link between diverse innate immune stimulation, NLRP10 activity and the immune function of mature DCs.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Innate immune system, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Adaptive immune system, Dendritic cell, Immunologic adjuvant


Graft-versus-host disease is one of the major transplant-related complications in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Continued efforts have been made to prevent the occurrence of severe graft-versus-host disease by eliminating or suppressing donor-derived effector T cells. Conventional immunosuppression does not adequately prevent graft-versus-host disease, especially in mismatched transplants. Unfortunately, elimination of donor-derived T cells impairs stem cell engraftment, and delays immunologic reconstitution, rendering the recipient susceptible to post-transplant infections and disease relapse, with potentially lethal consequences. In this review, we discuss the role of dynamic immune regulation in controlling graft-versus-host disease, and how cell-based therapies are being developed using regulatory T cells and other tolerogenic cells for the prevention and treatment of graft-versus-host disease. In addition, advances in the design of cytoreductive conditioning regimens to selectively target graft-versus-host disease-inducing donor-derived T cells that have improved the safety of allogeneic stem cell transplantation are reviewed. Finally, we discuss advances in our understanding of the tolerogenic facilitating cell population, a phenotypically and functionally distinct population of bone marrow-derived cells which promote hematopoietic stem cell engraftment while reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.

Concepts: Immune system, Immunology, Graft-versus-host disease, T helper cell, T cells, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


Vaccination has had a major impact on the control of infectious diseases. However, there are still many infectious diseases for which the development of an effective vaccine has been elusive. In many cases the failure to devise vaccines is a consequence of the inability of vaccine candidates to evoke appropriate immune responses. This is especially true where cellular immunity is required for protective immunity and this problem is compounded by the move toward devising sub-unit vaccines. Over the past decade nanoscale size (<1000 nm) materials such as virus-like particles, liposomes, ISCOMs, polymeric, and non-degradable nanospheres have received attention as potential delivery vehicles for vaccine antigens which can both stabilize vaccine antigens and act as adjuvants. Importantly, some of these nanoparticles (NPs) are able to enter antigen-presenting cells by different pathways, thereby modulating the immune response to the antigen. This may be critical for the induction of protective Th1-type immune responses to intracellular pathogens. Their properties also make them suitable for the delivery of antigens at mucosal surfaces and for intradermal administration. In this review we compare the utilities of different NP systems for the delivery of sub-unit vaccines and evaluate the potential of these delivery systems for the development of new vaccines against a range of pathogens.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Malaria, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Antigen, Smallpox


BACKGROUND: Food allergy has been reported increasingly around the world during the past several decades. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a common herpesvirus with high infection rate, is now suspected to be a risk or protective factor in food allergy. The aim of the study was to investigate the possible role of EBV infection in IgE-mediated food allergy. METHODS: 34 patients with an egg allergy and 34 healthy controls participated in this study. Egg allergy was confirmed by open-food challenge. Serum anti-viral capsid antigen (VCA), anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) IgG and egg specific (yolk and white)-IgE levels were evaluated by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). At the same time, EBV DNA as well as viral miRNAs in these samples was quantified by real-time PCR. RESULTS: The results showed that serum anti EBNA-1 IgG and two viral miRNAs (miR-BART1-5p and miR-BART7) were highly expressed in patients with egg allergy compared with healthy controls (p < 0.05, < 0.001 and < 0.01, respectively). Moreover, the expressions of anti EBNA-1 specific IgG, miR-BART1-5p and miR-BART7 positively correlated with the level of egg-specific IgE (p < 0.05, < 0.01 and < 0.01, respectively). The differences in anti VCA IgG concentration and EBV DNA copy number between the allergy patients and control individuals were not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: The high expression of EBV-specific antibody and miRNAs indicated that EBV infection might play a promoting role in IgE-mediated egg food allergy, and viral miRNAs-related immunomodulatory pathway was likely involved in this allergy process.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Virus, Egg, Immunology, Allergy, Food allergy, Epstein-Barr virus


BACKGROUND: Inducing donor-specific tolerance in renal transplant patients could potentially prevent allograft rejection and calcineurin inhibitor nephrotoxicity. Combined kidney and hematopoietic stem cell transplant from an HLA-matched donor is an exploratory and promising therapy to induce immune tolerance. Investigtion of molecular mechanisms involved in the disease is needed to understand the potential process of cell therapy and develop strategies to prevent this immunologic rejection. METHODS: We enrolled nine patients in a clinical study in which cryopreserved donor hematopoietic stem cells were infused on days 2, 4, and 6 after kidney transplantation. One month post-transplant, 4 plasma samples were collected from combined transplants (C + Tx), and 8 plasma samples from patients with kidney transplantation alone (Tx). High abundance proteins in plasma were depleted and the two-dimensional liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry coupled with iTRAQ labeling was utilized to identify the protein profiling between the two groups. Clusters of up- and down-regulated protein profiles were submitted to MetaCore for the construction of transcriptional factors and regulation networks. Results and Discussion Among the 179 identified proteins, 65 proteins were found in C + Tx with at least a 2-fold change as compared with Tx. A subset of proteins related to the complement and coagulation cascade, including complement C3a,complement C5a, precrusors to fibrinogen alpha and beta chains,was significantly downregulated in C + Tx. Meanwhile, Apolipoprotein-A1(ApoA1), ApoC1, ApoA2, ApoE, and ApoB were significantly lower in Tx compared to C + Tx. Gene ontology analysis showed that the dominant processes of differentially expressed proteins were associated with the inflammatory response and positive regulation of plasma lipoprotein particle remodeling. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, our study provides new insight into the molecular events in the hematopoietic stem cell-induced immunologic tolerance.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Gene expression, Stem cell, Immunology, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


Considering importance of ganglioside antibodies as biomarkers in various immune-mediated neuropathies and neurological disorders, we developed a high throughput multiplexing tool for the assessment of gangliosides-specific antibodies based on Biolpex/Luminex platform. In this report, we demonstrate that the ganglioside high throughput multiplexing tool is robust, highly specific and demonstrating ∼100-fold higher concentration sensitivity for IgG detection than ELISA. In addition to the ganglioside-coated array, the high throughput multiplexing tool contains beads coated with influenza hemagglutinins derived from H1N1 A/Brisbane/59/07 and H1N1 A/California/07/09 strains. Influenza beads provided an added advantage of simultaneous detection of ganglioside- and influenza-specific antibodies, a capacity important for the assay of both infectious antigen-specific and autoimmune antibodies following vaccination or disease. Taken together, these results support the potential adoption of the ganglioside high throughput multiplexing tool for measuring ganglioside antibodies in various neuropathic and neurological disorders.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Infectious disease, Infection, Immunology, Rheumatoid arthritis, ELISA, Pain