TLR agonists on autoimmunity, cancer and M1/M2 macrophage polarization
Embargo Lift Date: 2020-01-11
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Macrophages play an important role in the initiation of immune responses and the maintenance of immune homeostasis. Alterations in their phenotype, function and activation state have been implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. An increased M1:M2 ratio is associated with the development of several autoimmune diseases including Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), vasculitis and myositis. Previous work showed that the TLR2/1 agonist PAM3CSK4 (PAM3) could stimulate normal human monocytes to preferentially differentiate into immunosuppressive M2-like rather than inflammatory M1-like macrophages. This work seeks to investigate the ability of PAM3 to induce M2 macrophage differentiation from patient monocytes and evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of PAM3 in a murine model of lupus. Our findings revealed that patients with indicated autoimmune diseases have a significant increase in monocytes of the inflammatory subtypes coupled with a decrease in non-inflammatory classical monocytes compared to healthy controls. Additionally, in the absence of stimulant patient monocytes differentiated into more M1-like macrophages. Nevertheless, phenotypic analysis of in vitro generated macrophages revealed that, PAM3 stimulation induced M2-like macrophage differentiation without any difference from patient and healthy monocytes. Phenotypic analysis was further supported by the high endocytic abilities and secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines instead of pro-inflammatory cytokines by PAM3 generated macrophages. Lupus-prone NZB x NZW F1 mice responded similarly to weekly PAM3 treatment. Upon PAM3 treatment the increased M1:M2 ratio, which was observed in PBS treated group, was decreased to normal levels. The increase in M2 macrophages was accompanied by decreased autoantibody and inflammatory cytokines along with an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokine production. Moreover, kidney damage was significantly suppressed and M2 macrophages were detected in the kidneys of PAM3 treated group. PAM3 treatment prolonged to survival of NZB/W significantly, at 45 weeks of age %60 of mice were still alive whereas in PBS group only %5 were. Our results indicate that, PAM3 induces immunosuppressive macrophages and thus could represent a novel approach to the therapy of autoimmune diseases. The second part of this thesis focused on enhancing the immunomodulatory effects of TLR9 ligands, CpG ODN upon encapsulation within liposomes as cancer vaccine adjuvants. Although both D and K ODN are strictly dependent on TLR9, K ODN trigger pDCs to mature and secrete TNFα while D ODN stimulate pDC to produce IFNα. When cells are incubated with a mixture of K and D ODN, K masks the activity of D. The use of both K and D ODN would be of benefit when preparing vaccine adjuvants and for immunotherapy. Our data indicate that simultaneous delivery of D ODN loaded into neutral liposomes plus K ODN loaded into cationic liposomes improved rather than masked IFNα production while continuing to support TNFα by PBMCs. Liposomal encapsulation did not alter the subcellular localization of either class of ODN, but internalization studies revealed that cationic liposome encapsulation slows and reduces the uptake of K ODN whereas neutral encapsulation of D increases their uptake by pDCs. The efficiency of K plus D liposome combinations was examined in a murine tumor vaccine model. The liposome combinations induced pronounced Th1-biased anti-OVA immunity and led to a significant reduction of B16-OVA tumors following inoculation. Our findings, demonstrate that the beneficial features of D and K ODN could be obtained simultaneously by appropriate liposomal formulation, further extending the breadth of CpG ODN-dependent immunotherapy.