Regulation of TLR9-induced Innate Immune Responses in Sheep Peyer's Patches.
Booth, Jayaum S.
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One of the fundamental questions in mucosal immunology is how the intestine maintains tolerance to food antigens and commensal flora, and yet it is capable of mounting immune responses to pathogens. Peyer’s patches (PP) are lymphoid aggregates that are found in the small intestine and are the primary sites where adaptive immune responses are initiated in the intestine. An understanding of how PP cells regulate innate immune responses may provide information on how immune responses are regulated in the intestine. The toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a family of pattern recognition receptors (PRR) which provide a sensory mechanism for the detection of infectious threats. TLR9 recognizes bacterial DNA or synthetic CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN). Cells that express TLR9 when stimulated with CpG ODN proliferate and produce Th1-like pro-inflammatory cytokines and upregulate co-stimulatory molecules. Because the intestine is constantly exposed to bacterial DNA from commensal flora, immune cells from the gut must have evolved mechanisms to modulate responses to TLR9 stimulation to prevent responses to harmless bacteria. Our hypothesis is that innate immune responses to the TLR9 agonist CpG ODN in Peyer’s patches (PP) are attenuated compared to other tissues such as blood or lymph nodes. This is due to local regulatory mechanisms unique to the intestinal microenvironment. We conducted a number of experiments to test this hypothesis. We initially assessed the immunostimulatory activity of three available classes of CpG ODN in lymph nodes (LN), peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and PP since this had not been done in ruminants. We found that CpG ODN induced strong IFNá, IFN-gamma, IL-12, lymphocyte proliferation and NK-like activity in LN and PBMC. In contrast, these responses were significantly less in PP stimulated with CpG ODN. We wondered whether the reduced responses of PP cells to CpG ODN were unique to the TLR9 agonist. For this reason we tested responses of cells from these tissues to poly (I:C), LPS, and single-stranded RNA, which are agonists for TLR3, TLR4, and TLR7/8 respectively. Additionally, we tested combinations of TLRs since others have reported that multiple TLR agonists may induce synergistic responses. All TLR agonists or their combinations either failed to induce detectable responses or the responses were significantly less in PP compared to other tissues. Thus we concluded that PP cells responses to TLR stimulation were attenuated. In all tissues tested, there were no synergistic responses (IFN-alpha, IFN-gamma and lymphocyte proliferation) following stimulation with combinations of agonists. However, there was inhibition of PBMC responses when TLR7/8 agonists were combined with CpG ODN (TLR9 agonist). Importantly, TLR7/8 agonists reduced the CpG-induced proliferative responses in purified blood B cells. Interestingly, ovine B cells constitutively expressed TLR7/8 and TLR9 mRNA, suggesting the potential for cross-talk between the receptors. Interestingly, cell from all isolated tissues [ileal PP (IPP), jejunal PP (JPP), mesenteric LN (mLN) and PBMC] expressed similar levels of TLR9 mRNA, suggesting that the reduced responsiveness to CpG ODN stimulation in PP was not due to a lack of TLR9 expression. Surprisingly, we observed that PP cells spontaneously secreted significant amounts of the immunoregulatory cytokine IL-10. Furthermore, we confirmed that CD21+ B cells were the source of the IL-10. We then examined the role of IL-10 in regulating IFN and IL-12 responses in PP. Neutralization of IL-10 resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of CpG-induced IFNá-secreting cells detected and in IFN-gamma and IL-12 production by PP cells (both follicular and interfollicular lymphocytes). Similarly, depletion of the CD21+ B cells resulted in significant increases in IFNá, IFN-gamma and IL-12 responses. These observations support the conclusion that IL-10-secreting PP CD21+ B cells suppress innate immune responses in PP. Further characterization by flow cytometry revealed that these cells were CD1b-CD5-CD11c-CD72+CD21+ IgM+ B cells. We have proposed that these IL-10-secreting PP CD21+ B cells are a novel subset of regulatory B cells (Bregs). Finally, we examined the capacity of IL-10 secreting B cells (Bregs) to respond to CpG ODN. To achieve this, we compared CD21+ B cells from blood and JPP. Unlike blood CD21+ B cells, CD21+ B cells from JPP proliferated poorly in response to CpG ODN. Moreover, PP CD21+ B cells, unlike blood CD21+ B cells, do not secrete IgM or IL-12 in response to CpG stimulation, although both PP and blood CD21+ B cells express similar level of TLR9 mRNA. Neutralization of IL-10 did not enhance CpG-induced proliferative responses in PP CD21+ B cells. Thus IL-10 does not play a direct role in the hyporesponsiveness of PP CD21+ B cells to CpG ODN. To further explore the mechanism by which PP Bregs fail to respond to CpG ODN stimulation, we used a kinome analysis to determine whether the TLR9 pathway was functional in PP Bregs compared to blood CD21+ B cells. We observed that peptides representing critical adaptor molecules downstream of TLR9 such as IRAK1, TAK1, Casp8, p-38 MAPK, JNK, FOS, IKKá, NF-KB-p65 were not phosphorylated in JPP CD21+ B cells following CpG ODN stimulation. However, in blood CD21+ B cells stimulated with CpG ODN, the same peptides on the array were all highly phosphorylated leading to a functional TLR9 signaling pathway. Thus PP Bregs have evolved mechanisms by which the TLR9 signaling pathway is not activated following exposure to the TLR9 agonist, CpG ODN. In conclusion, we clearly demonstrated that TLR9-induced responses in cells from PP are significantly attenuated. This is a consequence of PP CD21+ B cells (Bregs) that spontaneously secrete IL-10, which in turn “conditions” an anti-inflammatory environment in this tissue leading to poor cytokine responses to the TLR9 agonist, CpG ODN. Additionally, we show that Bregs are unresponsiveness to TLR9 stimulation. This unresponsiveness is due to regulatory mechanisms in Bregs leading to a dysfunctional TLR9 signaling pathway. These may represent strategies by which PP dampen innate responses to pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) in intestinal immune tissues to maintain intestinal immune homeostasis. These conclusions are consistent with our hypothesis that TLR responses in PP cells are attenuated, and this is due to B cell-mediated regulatory mechanisms that are unique to the intestinal microenvironment.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorBabiuk, Lorne; Mutwiri, George K.
CommitteeMisra, Vikram; Sharif, Shayan; Ndisang, Joseph; Griebel, Philip; Gordon, John; Singh, Baljit
Copyright DateAugust 2009