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The immunomodulation of porcine immune cells by innate and synthetic host defense peptides



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Dendritic cells (DCs) are potent antigen presenting cells (APCs) that link the innate and adaptive immune system by their unique ability to induce and direct immune responses towards various T helper (Th)-type of immune responses such as Th1-, Th2-, Th9-, Th17-, Th22- or T regulatory (TR). The type of Th response generated very much depends on the nature of the antigen encountered and allows for an effective and proficient immune response. For example, Th1 responses are used to clear intracellular pathogens while Th2 responses are needed to clear extracellular pathogens The ability to specifically modulate Th-responses is an area of intense research, as it allows for the development of more effective vaccines and immunotherapeutics. Immunomodulation of DCs is one strategy by which specific Th-type immune responses may be tailored. Current research is focused on identifying agents that have the capacity to immunomodulate DCs such as host defense peptides (HDPs). Apart from their anti-microbial activities, HDPs have a number of immune functions including recruitment and subsequent activation of DCs. The goal of this study was to examine the immunomodulatory effects of HDPs on porcine DC functions. This research was part of a larger multinational research project to develop a novel adjuvant platform for single-immunization vaccines against pertussis in neonates. The pig model was used for this research because of its physiological similarities to humans and the recently developed pertussis infection model in young piglets. A series of experiments was conducted to characterize and describe porcine DC functions. Two subsets of DCs were successfully characterized and tested for their response to stimulation with HDPs. Initial results demonstrated a minimal effect of HDPs on DC functions, therefore we expanded the number of HDPs used to include both synthetic derivatives of HDPs known as innate defense regulators (IDRs) and naturally- occurring HDPs. We examined these effects on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in vitro and found that HDPs induce expression of the chemokine interleukin (IL)-8, which resulted in PBMC recruitment in vitro. We then proceeded to evaluate the HDPs in vivo by intradermally administering them into the flank of pigs. Surprisingly, treatment with the HDPs did not result in recruitment of neutrophils in vivo. We also examined the effects of formulating IDR-1002 as an adjuvant with the academic antigen Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (KLH) on the development of KLH-specific immune responses in vaccinated pigs. While there was no difference in antibody titers between vaccinated and control animals, we found that co-formulation with IDR-1002 decreased both antigen-specific and mitogen-induced proliferation in KLH/IDR-1002 vaccinated animals as long as four weeks post-treatment. These results demonstrate that specific IDRs can suppress certain aspects of the pro-inflammatory immune response making them potentially highly versatile tools to modulate and tailor the immune response in disease states characterized by a pro-inflammatory component.



porcine, dendritic cells, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, host defense peptides, immunomodulation



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Veterinary Microbiology


Veterinary Microbiology


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