Inflammasomes are multi-protein signaling complexes that trigger the activation of inflammatory caspases and the maturation of interleukin-1β. Among various inflammasome complexes, the NLRP3 inflammasome is best characterized and has been linked with various human autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Thus, the NLRP3 inflammasome may be a promising target for anti-inflammatory therapies. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the mechanisms by which the NLRP3 inflammasome is activated in the cytosol. We also describe the binding partners of NLRP3 inftammasome complexes activating or inhibiting the inflammasome assembly. Our knowledge of the mechanisms regulating NLRP3 inflammasome signaling and how these influence inflammatory responses offers further insight into potential therapeutic strategies to treat inflammatory diseases associated with dysregulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome,
Natural killer （NK） cells play critical roles in host immunity against cancer. In response, cancers develop mechanisms to escape NK cell attack or induce defective NK cells. Current NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy aims to overcome NK cell paralysis using several approaches. One approach uses expanded allogeneic NK cells, which are not inhibited by self histocompatibility antigens like autologous NK cells, for adoptive cellular immunotherapy. Another adoptive transfer approach uses stable allogeneic NK cell lines, which is more practical for quality control and large-scale production. A third approach is genetic modification of fresh NK cells or NK cell lines to highly express cytokines, Fc receptors and/or chimeric tumor-antigen receptors. Therapeutic NK cells can be derived from various sources, including peripheral or cord blood cells, stem cells or even induced pluripotent stem cells （iPSCs）, and a variety of stimulators can be used for large-scale production in laboratories or good manufacturing practice （GMP） facilities, including soluble growth factors, immobilized molecules or antibodies, and other cellular activators. A list of NK cell therapies to treat several types of cancer in clinical trials is reviewed here. Several different approaches to NK-based immunotherapy, such as tissue-specific NK cells, killer receptor-oriented NK cells and chemically treated NK cells, are discussed. A few new techniques or strategies to monitor NK cell therapy by non-invasive imaging, predetermine the efficiency of NK cell therapy by in vivo experiments and evaluate NK cell therapy approaches in clinical trials are also introduced.
Macrophages represent a major cell type of innate immunity and have emerged as a critical player and therapeutic target in many chronic inflammatory diseases. Hepatic macrophages consist of Kupffer cells, which are originated from the fetal yolk-sack, and infiltrated bone marrow-derived monocytes/macrophages. Hepatic macrophages play a central role in maintaining homeostasis of the liver and in the pathogenesis of liver injury, making them an attractive therapeutic target for liver diseases. However, the various populations of hepatic macrophages display different phenotypes and exert distinct functions. Thus, more research is required to better understand these cells to guide the development of macrophage-based therapeutic interventions. This review article will summarize the current knowledge on the origins and composition of hepatic macrophages, their functions in maintaining hepatic homeostasis, and their involvement in both promoting and resolving liver inflammation, injury, and fibrosis. Finally, the current strategies being developed to target hepatic macrophages for the treatment of liver diseases will be reviewed.
The human liver is usually perceived as a non-immunological organ engaged primarily in metabolic, nutrient storage and detoxification activities. However, we now know that the healthy liver is also a site of complex immunological activity mediated by a diverse immune cell repertoire as well as non-hematopoietic cell populations. In the nondiseased liver, metabolic and tissue remodeling functions require elements of inflammation. This inflammation, in combination with regular exposure to dietary and microbial products, creates the potential for excessive immune activation. In this complex microenvironment, the hepatic immune system tolerates harmless molecules while at the same time remaining alert to possible infectious agents, malignant cells or tissue damage. Upon appropriate immune activation to challenge by pathogens or tissue damage, mechanisms to resolve inflammation are essential to maintain liver homeostasis. Failure to clear ＇dangerous＇ stimuli or regulate appropriately activated immune mechanisms leads to pathological inflammation and disrupted tissue homeostasis characterized by the progressive development of fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventual liver failure. Hepatic inflammatory mechanisms therefore have a spectrum of roles in the healthy adult liver; they are essential to maintain tissue and organ homeostasis and, when dysregulated, are key drivers of the liver pathology associated with chronic infection, autoimmunity and malignancy. In this review, we explore the changing perception of inflammation and inflammatory mediators in normal liver homeostasis and propose targeting of liver-specific immune regulation pathways as a therapeutic approach to treat liver disease.
Metagenomic approaches are currently being used to decipher the genome of the microbiota (microbiome), and, in parallel, functional studies are being performed to analyze the effects of the microbiota on the host. Gnotobiological methods are an indispensable tool for studying the consequences of bacterial colonization. Animals used as models of human diseases can be maintained in sterile conditions (isolators used for germ-free rearing) and specifically colonized with defined microbes (including non-cultivable commensal bacteria). The effects of the germ-free state or the effects of colonization on disease initiation and maintenance can be observed in these models. Using this approach we demonstrated direct involvement of components of the microbiota in chronic intestinal inflammation and development of colonic neoplasia (i.e., using models of human inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal carcinoma). In contrast, a protective effect of microbiota colonization was demonstrated for the development of autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. Interestingly, the development of atherosclerosis in germ-free apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-deficient mice fed by a standard low-cholesterol diet is accelerated compared with conventionally reared animals. Mucosal induction of tolerance to allergen Bet v1 was not influenced by the presence or absence of microbiota. Identification of components of the microbiota and elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of their action in inducing pathological changes or exerting beneficial, disease-protective activities could aid in our ability to influence the composition of the microbiota and to find bacterial strains and components (e.g., probiotics and prebiotics) whose administration may aid in disease prevention and treatment. Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2011) 8, 110-120; doi:10.1038/cmi.2010.67; published online 31 January 2011
Our immune system is based on the close collaboration of the innate and adaptive immune systems for the rapid detection of any threats to the host. Recognition of pathogen-derived molecules is entrusted to specific germline- encoded signaling receptors. The same receptors have now also emerged as efficient detectors of misplaced or altered self-molecules that signal tissue damage and cell death following, for example, disruption of the blood supply and subsequent hypoxia. Many types of endogenous molecules have been shown to provoke such sterile inflammatory states when released from dying cells. However, a group of proteins referred to as alarmins have both intracellular and extracellular functions which have been the subject of intense research. Indeed, alarmins can either exert beneficial cell housekeeping functions, leading to tissue repair, or provoke deleterious uncontrolled inflammation. This group of proteins includes the high-mobility group box 1 protein （HMGB1）, interleukin （IL）-1α, IL-33 and the Ca^2＋-binding S100 proteins. These dual-function proteins share conserved regulatory mechanisms, such as secretory routes, post-translational modifications and enzymatic processing, that govern their extracellular functions in time and space. Release of alarmins from mesenchymal cells is a highly relevant mechanism by which immune cells can be alerted of tissue damage, and alarmins play a key role in the development of acute or chronic inflammatory diseases and in cancer development.
Humanized mouse models that have received human cells or tissue transplants are extremely useful in basic and applied human disease research. Highly immunodeficient mice, which do not reject xenografts and support cell and tissue differentiation and growth, are indispensable for generating additional appropriate models. Since the early 2000s, a series of immunodeficient mice appropriate for generating humanized mice has been successively developed by introducing the IL-2Rynull gene （e.g., NOD/SCID/7c＂uu and Rag2nu＂ycnun mice）. These strains show not only a high rate of human cell engraftment, but also generate well-differentiated multilineage human hematopoietic cells after human hematopoietic stem cell （HSC） transplantation. These humanized mice facilitate the analysis of human hematology and immunology in vivo. However, human hematopoietic cells developed from HSCs are not always phenotypically and functionally identical to those in humans. More recently, a new series of immunodeficient mice compensates for these disadvantages. These mice were generated by genetically introducing human cytokine genes into NODISCIDI？cn＂u and Rag2nulITcnUll mice. In this review, we describe the current knowledge of human hematopoietic cells developed in these mice. Various human disease mouse models using these humanized mice are summarized.
Labor resembles an inflammatory response that includes secretion of cytokines/chemokines by resident and infiltrating immune cells into reproductive tissues and the maternal/fetal interface. Untimely activation of these inflammatory pathways leads to preterm labor, which can result in preterm birth. Preterm birth is a major determinant of neonatal mortality and morbidity; therefore, the elucidation of the process of labor at a cellular and molecular level is essential for understanding the pathophysiology of preterm labor. Here, we summarize the role of innate and adaptive immune cells in the physiological or pathological activation of labor. We review published literature regarding the role of innate and adaptive immune cells in the cervix, myometrium, fetal membranes, decidua and the fetus in late pregnancy and labor at term and preterm. Accumulating evidence suggests that innate immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells) mediate the process of labor by releasing pro-inflammatory factors such as cytokines, chemokines and matrix metalloproteinases. Adaptive immune cells (T-cell subsets and B cells) participate in the maintenance of fetomaternal tolerance during pregnancy, and an alteration in their function or abundance may lead to labor at term or preterm. Also, immune cells that bridge the innate and adaptive immune systems (natural killer T (NKT) cells and dendritic cells (DCs)) seem to participate in the pathophysiology of preterm labor. In conclusion, a balance between innate and adaptive immune cells is required in order to sustain pregnancy; an alteration of this balance will lead to labor at term or preterm.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in innate immune cells are the prime cellular sensors for microbial components. TLR activation leads to the production of proinflammatory mediators and thus TLR signaling must be properly regulated by various mechanisms to maintain homeostasis. TLR4-ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tolerance or cross-tolerance is one such mechanism, and it plays an important role in innate immunity. Tolerance is established and sustained by the activity of the microRNA miR-146a, which is known to target key elements of the myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) signaling pathway, including IL-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK1), IRAK2 and tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6). In this review, we comprehensively examine the TLR signaling involved in innate immunity, with special focus on LPS-induced tolerance. The function of TLR ligand-induced microRNAs, including miR-146a, miR-155 and miR-132, in regulating inflammatory mediators, and their impact on the immune system and human diseases, are discussed. Modulation of these microRNAs may affect TLR pathway activation and help to develop therapeutics against inflammatory diseases. Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2011) 8, 388-403; doi:10.1038/cmi.2011.26; published online 8 August 2011
Psoriasis is one of the most common immune-mediated chronic, inflammatory skin diseases characterized by hyperproliferative keratinocytes and infiltration of T cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and neutrophils. Although the pathogenesis of psoriasis is not fully understood, there is ample evidence suggesting that the dysregulation of immune cells in the skin, particularly T cells, plays a critical role in psoriasis development. In this review, we mainly focus on the pathogenic T cells and discuss how these T cells are activated and involved in the disease pathogenesis. Newly identified ＇professional＇ IL-17-producing dermal γδ T cells and their potential role in psoriasis will also be included. Finally, we will briefly summarize the recent progress on the T cell and its related cytokine-targeted therapy for psoriasis treatment.
Severe influenza remains unusual in its virulence for humans. Complications or ultimately death arising from these infections are often associated with hyperinduction of proinflammatory cytokine production, which is also known as ＇cytokine storm＇. For this disease, it has been proposed that immunomodulatory therapy may improve the outcome, with or without the combination of antiviral agents. Here, we review the current literature on how various effectors of the immune system initiate the cytokine storm and exacerbate pathological damage in hosts. We also review some of the current immunomodulatory strategies for the treatment of cytokine storms in severe influenza, including corticosteroids, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonists, sphingosine-l-phosphate receptor 1 agonists, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, antioxidants, anti-tumour-necrosis factor therapy, intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, statins, arbidol, herbs, and other potential therapeutic strategies.
The liver represents a frontline immune organ that is constantly exposed to a variety of gut-derived antigens as a result of its unique location and blood supply, With a predominant role in innate immunity, the liver is enriched with various innate immune cells, among which natural killer （NK） cells play important roles in host defense and in maintaining immune balance, Hepatic NK cells were first described as ＇pit cells＇ in the rat liver in the 1970s, Recent studies of NK cells in mouse and human livers have shown that two distinct NK cell subsets, liver-resident NK cells and conventional NK （cNK） cells, are present in this organ, Here, we review liver NK cell subsets in different species, revisiting rat hepatic pit ceils and highlighting recent progress related to resident NK cells in mouse and human livers, and also discuss the dual roles of NK cells in liver immunity,
The lack of immune response to an antigen, a process known as immune tolerance, is essential for the preservation of immune homeostasis. To date, two mechanisms that drive immune tolerance have been described extensively: central tolerance and peripheral tolerance. Under the new nomenclature, thymus-derived regulatory T (tT(reg)) cells are the major mediators of central immune tolerance, whereas peripherally derived regulatory T (pT(reg)) cells function to regulate peripheral immune tolerance. A third type of T-reg cells, termed iT(reg), represents only the in vitro-induced T-reg cells(1). Depending on whether the cells stably express Foxp3, pT(reg), and iT(reg) cells may be divided into two subsets: the classical CD4(+)Foxp3(+) T-reg cells and the CD4(+)Foxp3(-) type 1 regulatory T (Tr1) cells(2). This review focuses on the discovery, associated biomarkers, regulatory functions, methods of induction, association with disease, and clinical trials of Tr1 cells.
There is growing evidence for a connection between inflammation and tumor development, and the nuclear factor kappa B （NF-κB）, a proinflammatory transcription factor, is hypothesized to promote tumorigenesis. Although the genetic evidence for the hypothesis has been lacking, recent papers have lent credence to this hypothesis. It has been reported that constitutive NF-κB activation in inflammatory bowel diseases （IBDs） increases risk of colorectal cancer （CRC） in the patients with the number of years of active disease. NF-κB activation might induce cellular transformation, mediate cellular proliferation, prevent the elimination of pre-neoplastic and fully malignant cells by up-regulating the anti-apoptosis proteins. Furthermore, NF-κB may contribute to the progression of CRC by regulating the expression of diverse target genes that are involved in cell proliferation （Cyclin D1）, angiogenesis （VEGF, IL-8, COX2）, and metastasis （MMP9）. These findings implicate NF-κB inhibition as an important therapeutic target in CRC. However, due to lack of knowledge about the specific roles of different NF-r,B subunits in different stage of carcinogenesis, and compounds to block specific subunits of NF-κB family, it will be a long time before the coming of targeting NF-κB in CRC therapy.
B cells are generally considered to be positive regulators of the immune response because of their capability to produce antibodies, including autoantibodies. The production of antibodies facilitates optimal CD4＋ T-cell activation because B cells serve as antigen-presenting cells and exert other modulatory functions in immune responses. However, certain B cells can also negatively regulate the immune response by producing regulatory cytokines and directly interacting with pathogenic T cells via cell-to-cell contact. These types of B Cells are defined as regulatory B （Breg） cells. The regulatory function of Breg cells has been demonstrated in mouse models of inflammation, cancer, transplantation, and particularly in autoimmunity. In this review, we focus on the recent advances that lead to the understanding of the development and function of Breg cells and the implications of B cells in human autoimmune diseases.
The balance between immune effector cells and immunosuppressive cells and how this regulates the tumor microenvironment has been well described. A significant contribution of immune regulatory cells, including regulatory T cells, to tumor progression has been widely reported. An emerging body of evidence has recently recognized a role for B cells in modulating the immune response to tumors and lymphoid malignancies. Regulatory B cells (Bregs) are a newly designated subset of B cells that have been shown to play a pivotal role in regulating immune responses involved in inflammation, autoimmunity and, more recently, cancer. Bregs can suppress diverse cell subtypes, including T cells, through the secretion of anti-inflammatory mediators, such as IL-10, and can facilitate the conversion of T cells to regulatory T cells, thus attenuating anti-tumor immune responses. Similar B-cell subpopulations have been reported to be recruited to the tumor but to acquire their immunosuppressive properties within the tumor bed and thereby attenuate anti-tumor immune responses. However, despite a pivotal role for Bregs in promoting inflammation and carcinogenesis, the phenotypic diversity of the cell surface markers that are unique to Bregs remains unclear in mice and humans. In this review, we summarize the characteristics of Bregs and review our current knowledge of Bregs and their inhibition of anti-tumor immune responses in murine tumor models and cancer patients.
Hepatocytes, the major parenchymal cells in the liver, play pivotal roles in metabolism, detoxification, and protein synthesis. Hepatocytes also activate innate immunity against invading microorganisms by secreting innate immunity proteins. These proteins include bactericidal proteins that directly kill bacteria, opsonins that assist in the phagocytosis of foreign bacteria, iron-sequestering proteins that block iron uptake by bacteria, several soluble factors that regulate lipopolysaccharide signaling, and the coagulation factor fibrinogen that activates innate immunity. In this review, we summarize the wide variety of innate immunity proteins produced by hepatocytes and discuss liver-enriched transcription factors （e.g. hepatocyte nuclear factors and CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins）, pro-inflammatory mediators （e.g. interleukin （IL）-6, IL-22, IL-lp and tumor necrosis factor-a）, and downstream signaling pathways （e.g. signal transducer and activator of transcription factor 3 and nuclear factor-KB） that regulate the expression of these innate immunity proteins. We also briefly discuss the dysregulation of these innate immunity proteins in chronic liver disease, which may contribute to an increased susceDtibilitv to bacterial infection in oatients with cirrhosis.
The liver is a tolerogenic organ with exquisite mechanisms of immune regulation that ensure upkeep of local and systemic immune tolerance to self and foreign antigens, but that is also able to mount effective immune responses against pathogens. The immune privilege of liver allografts was recognized first in pigs in spite of major histo-compatibility complex mismatch, and termed the ＂liver tolerance effect＂. Furthermore, liver transplants are spontaneously accepted with only low-dose immunosuppression, and induce tolerance for non-hepatic co-transplanted allografts of the same donor. Although this immunotolerogenic environment is favorable in the setting of organ transplantation, it is detrimental in chronic infectious liver diseases like hepatitis B or C, malaria, schistosomiasis or tumorigenesis, leading to pathogen persistence and weak anti-tumor effects. The liver is a primary site of T-cell activation, but it elicits poor or incomplete activation of T cells, leading to their abortive activation, exhaustion, suppression of their effector function and early death. This is exploited by pathogens and can impair pathogen control and clearance or allow tumor growth. Hepatic priming of T cells is mediated by a number of local conventional and nonconventional antigen-presenting cells （APCs）, which promote tolerance by immune deviation, induction of T-cell anergy or apoptosis, and generating and expanding regulatory T cells. This review will focus on the communication between classical and nonclassical APCs and lymphocytes in the liver in tolerance induction and will discuss recent insights into the role of innate lymphocytes in this process.
T-cell tolerance is an important mechanism for tumor escape, but the molecular pathways involved in T-cell tolerance remain poorly understood. It remains unknown whether the inhibitory immunoreceptor programmed death-1 (PD-1) plays a role in conditions of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we detected PD-1 expression on CD8(+) T cells from healthy control peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and the PBMCs of NSCLC patients as well as NSCLC tissues. Results showed that tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells had increased PD-1 expression and impaired immune function, including reducing cytokine production capability and impairing capacity to proliferate. Blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway by the PD-L1-specific antibody partially restored cytokine production and cell proliferation. These data provide direct evidence that the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway is involved in CD8(+) T-cell dysfunction in NSCLC patients. Moreover, blocking this pathway provides a potential therapy target in lung cancer. Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2010) 7, 389-395; doi:10.1038/cmi.2010.28; published online 31 May 2010
Long noncoding RNAs （IncRNAs） have been shown to play important roles in immune cell development and immune responses through different mechanisms, such as dosage compensation, imprinting, enhancer function, and transcriptional regulation. Although the functions of most IncRNAs are unclear, some IncRNAs have been found to control transcriptional or post-transcriptional regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses via new methods of protein-protein interactions or pairing with DNA and RNA. Interestingly, increasing evidence has elucidated the importance of IncRNAs in the interaction between hosts and pathogens. In this review, an overview of the IncRNAs modes of action, as well as the important and diversified roles of IncRNAs in immunity, are provided, and an emerging paradigm of IncRNAs in regulating innate immune responses is highlighted.