The 15th annual meeting of the Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG) was held on November 19, 2010 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. This year, the focus of the meeting was on alcohol’s effect on the immune system in both clinical and experimental systems. The event consisted of three sessions, which featured plenary talks from invited speakers along with oral presentations from selected abstracts, in addition to a poster session. Participants presented a variety of information on ethanol-induced effects on infection susceptibility and resolution, oxidative stress, and organ inflammation. Specifically, speakers presented new insights on the mechanism of alcohol-mediated deleterious effects in the lung, liver, skin, and neuroendocrine system as well as on immune cells in both in vivo and in vitro systems. Additional oral presentations suggested possible mechanisms for how alcohol-induced reactive oxygen species promote immune dysregulation both locally and systemically.
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a cosmopolitan zoonosis caused by the larval cystic stage of the dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. This complex multicellular pathogen produces various antigens which modulate the host immune response and promote parasite survival and development. The recent application of modern molecular and immunological approaches has revealed novel insights on the nature of the immune responses generated during the course of a hydatid infection, although many aspects of the Echinococcus-host interplay remain unexplored. This paper summarizes recent developments in our understanding of the immunology and diagnosis of echinococcosis, indicates areas where information is lacking, and suggests possible new strategies to improve serodiagnosis for practical application.
The evolution of different life-history strategies has been suggested as a major force constraining physiological mechanisms such as immunity. In some long-lived oviparous species, a prolonged persistence of maternal antibodies in offspring could thus be expected in order to protect them over their long growth period. Here, using an intergenerational vaccination design, we show that specific maternal antibodies can display an estimated half-life of 25 days post-hatching in the nestlings of a long-lived bird. This temporal persistence is much longer than previously known for birds and it suggests specific properties in the regulation of IgY immunoglobulin catabolism in such a species. We also show that maternal antibodies in the considered procellariiform species are functional as late as 20 days of age. Using a modelling approach, we highlight that the potential impact of such effects on population viability could be important, notably when using vaccination for conservation. These results have broad implications, from comparative immunology to evolutionary eco-epidemiology and conservation biology.
Neurobiologists and immunologists study concepts often signified with identical terminology. Scientists in both fields study a structure known as the synapse, and each group analyzes a subject called memory. Is this a quirk of human language, or are there real similarities between these two physiological systems? Not only are the linguistic concepts expressed in the words “synapse” and “memory” shared between the fields, but the actual molecules of physiologic importance in one system play parallel roles in the other: complement, the major histocompatibility molecules, and even “neuro”-transmitters all have major impacts on health and on disease in both the brain and the immune system. Not only are the same molecules found in diverse roles in each system, but we have learned that there is real “hard-wired” crosstalk between nerves and lymphoid organs. This issue of the JCI highlights some of the lessons learned from experts who are working at this scintillating intersection between immunology and neuroscience.
Despite the impressive progress over the past decade, in the field of tumor immunology, such as the identification of tumor antigens and antigenic peptides, there are still many obstacles in eliciting an effective immune response to eradicate cancer. It has become increasingly clear that tumor microenvironment plays a crucial role in the control of immune protection. Tumors have evolved to utilize hypoxic stress to their own advantage by activating key biochemical and cellular pathways that are important in progression, survival, and metastasis. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) play a determinant role in promoting tumor cell growth and survival. Hypoxia contributes to immune suppression by activating HIF-1 and VEGF pathways. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between hypoxia and tumor tolerance to immune surveillance through the recruitment of regulatory cells (regulatory T cells and myeloid derived suppressor cells). In this regard, hypoxia (HIF-1α and VEGF) is emerging as an attractive target for cancer therapy. How the microenvironmental hypoxia poses both obstacles and opportunities for new therapeutic immune interventions will be discussed.
In the present article, we discuss the various ambiguous aspects of the immune system that render this complex biological network so highly flexible and able to defend the host from different external invaders. This ambiguity stems mainly from the property of the immune system to be both protective and harmful. Immunity cannot be fully protective without producing a certain degree of damage (immunopathology) to the host. The balance between protection and tissue damage is, therefore, critical for the establishment of immune homeostasis and protection. In this review, we will consider as ambiguous, various immunological tactics including: (a) the opposing functions driving immune responses, immune-regulation, and contra-regulation, as well as (b) the phenomenon of chronic immune activation as a result of a continuous cross-presentation of apoptotic T cells by dendritic cells. All these plans participate principally to maintain a state of chronic low-level inflammation during persisting infections, and ultimately to favor the species survival.
This issue of Frontiers in Immunologic Tolerance explores barriers to tolerance from a variety of views of cells, molecules, and processes of the immune system. Our laboratory has spent over a decade focused on the migration of the cells of the immune system, and dissecting the signals that determine how and where effector and suppressive regulatory T cells traffic from one site to another in order to reject or protect allografts. These studies have led us to a greater appreciation of the anatomic structure of the immune system, and the realization that the path taken by lymphocytes during the course of the immune response to implanted organs determines the final outcome. In particular, the structures, microanatomic domains, and the cells and molecules that lymphocytes encounter during their transit through blood, tissues, lymphatics, and secondary lymphoid organs are powerful determinants for whether tolerance is achieved. Thus, the understanding of complex cellular and molecular processes of tolerance will not come from “96-well plate immunology,” but from an integrated understanding of the temporal and spatial changes that occur during the response to the allograft. The study of the precise positioning and movement of cells in lymphoid organs has been difficult since it is hard to visualize cells within their three-dimensional setting; instead techniques have tended to be dominated by two-dimensional renderings...
Despite their clear relationship to immunology, few existing studies have examined the potential role of microparticles (MP) in infectious disease. MP have a different size range from exosomes and apoptotic bodies, with which they are often grouped and arise by different mechanisms in association with inflammatory cytokine action or stress on the source cell. Infection with pathogens usually leads to the expression of a range of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, as well as significant stress in both infected and uninfected cells. It is thus reasonable to infer that infection-associated inflammation also leads to MP production. MP are produced by most of the major cell types in the immune system, and appear to be involved at both innate and adaptive levels, potentially serving different functions in each. Thus, they do not appear to have a universal function; instead their functions are source- or stimulus-dependent, although likely to be primarily either pro- or anti-inflammatory. We argue that in infectious diseases, MP may be able to deliver antigen, derived from the biological cargo acquired from their cells of origin, to antigen-presenting cells. Another potential benefit of MP would be to transfer and/or disseminate phenotype and function to target cells. However...
Edward Jenner, who discovered that it is possible to vaccinate against Small Pox using material from Cow Pox, is rightly the man who started the science of immunology. However, over the passage of time many of the details surrounding his astounding discovery have been lost or forgotten. Also, the environment within which Jenner worked as a physician in the countryside, and the state of the art of medicine and society are difficult to appreciate today. It is important to recall that people were still being bled at the time, to relieve the presence of evil humors. Accordingly, this review details Jenner’s discovery and attempts to place it in historical context. Also, the vaccine that Jenner used, which decreased the prevalence of Small Pox worldwide in his own time, and later was used to eradicate Small Pox altogether, is discussed in light of recent data.
In 2005 a newly discovered T helper cell subset that secreted interleukin (IL)-17 became the center of attention in immunology. Initial studies painted Th17 cells as the culprit for destruction in many different autoimmune and auto-inflammatory diseases. Subsequently, the discovery of patients with primary immunodeficiencies in the IL-17 pathway taught us that Th17 cells have a critical role in defense against certain fungal and bacterial infections. Moreover, the paradoxical exacerbation of Crohn’s disease in the clinical trials of a Secukinumab (AIN457), a fully human neutralizing antibody to IL-17A, has cast into doubt a universal pro-inflammatory and harmful role for Th17 cells. Evidence now suggests that depending on the environment Th17 cells can alter their differentiation program, ultimately giving rise to either protective or pro-inflammatory cells. In this review we will summarize the evidence from patients with immunodeficiencies, autoimmune, or auto-inflammatory diseases that teaches us how the pro-inflammatory versus protective function of Th17 cells varies within the context of different human diseases.