PURPOSE. Given that dry eye disease (DED) is associated with T cell-mediated inflammation of the ocular surface and that PD-L1 is an important negative or inhibitory regulator of immune responses constitutively expressed at high levels by corneal epithelial cells, the authors studied the expression and function of PD-L1 in DED. METHODS. Dry eye was induced in untreated wild-type mice, PD-L1(-/-) mice, and wild-type mice treated with anti-PD-L1 antibody by exposing these mice to a desiccating environment in the controlled environment chamber modified with subcutaneous administration of scopolamine. Real-time PCR was used to quantify the expression of chemokine gene transcript levels of multiple CC and CXC chemokine ligands and receptors. Epifluorescence microscopy was used to evaluate corneal infiltration of CD3(+) T cells after immunohistochemical staining. RESULTS. The increased expression of specific chemokine ligands and receptors in PD-L1(-/-) corneas of normal mice is associated with significant increases in T-cell homing into these corneas. Similar, and more enhanced, increases in T-cell infiltration were observed in PD-L1(-/-) DED mice or DED mice treated with anti-PD-L1 antibody compared with controls. In addition, the authors found significantly decreased expression of PD-L1 by corneal epithelial cells in DED and significantly increased corneal fluorescein staining score with PD-L1 functional blockade using anti-PD-L1 antibody. CONCLUSIONS. Downregulation of corneal epithelial PD-L1 amplifies dry eye-associated corneal inflammation and epitheliopathy by increasing the expression of chemokine ligands and receptors that promote T-cell homing to the ocular surface.
While the role of PD-1 in inhibiting immunity during chronic infections is well established, its functions during acute infections are much less clear. The PD-1 pathway can dampen CD8 T cell responses during some acute infections and restrain responses by 'helpless' CD8 memory T cells. An emerging role for PD-1 in innate immunity has been revealed by recent studies showing that PD-1 can limit function of DC and macrophages as well as T cell independent B cell responses. Thus, PD-1 can influence adaptive immune responses during acute infections, though precisely how this regulation occurs is only just beginning to be appreciated.
The inducible costimulatory molecule ICOS has been suggested to be important in the development of interleukin 17 (IL-17)-producing helper T cells (T(H)-17 cells) and of follicular helper T cells (T(FH) cells). Here we show that ICOS-deficient mice had no defect in T(H)-17 differentiation but had fewer T(H)-17 cells after IL-23 stimulation and fewer T(FH) cells. We also show that T(FH) cells produced IL-17 and that T(FH) cells in ICOS-deficient mice were defective in IL-17 production. Both T(H)-17 and T(FH) cells had higher expression of the transcription factor c-Maf. Genetic loss of c-Maf resulted in a defect in IL-21 production and fewer T(H)-17 and T(FH) cells. Thus our data suggest that ICOS-induced c-Maf regulates IL-21 production that in turn regulates the expansion of T(H)-17 and T(FH) cells.
The CTLA-4 pathway is recognized as a major immune inhibitory axis and is a key therapeutic target for augmenting antitumor immunity or curbing autoimmunity. CTLA-4-deficient mice provide the archetypal example of dysregulated immune homeostasis, developing lethal lymphoproliferation with multiorgan inflammation. In this study, we show that surprisingly these mice have an enlarged population of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg). The increase in Treg is associated with normal thymic output but enhanced proliferation of Foxp3(+) cells in the periphery. We confirmed the effect of CTLA-4 deficiency on the Treg population using OVA-specific Treg which develop normally in the absence of CTLA-4, but show increased proliferation in response to peripheral self-Ag. Functional analysis revealed that Ag-specific Treg lacking CTLA-4 were unable to regulate disease in an adoptive transfer model of diabetes. Collectively, these data suggest that the proliferation of Treg in the periphery is tuned by CTLA-4 signals and that Treg expression of CTLA-4 is required for regulation of pancreas autoimmunity.
Costimulatory molecules, such as B7-1/2 and PD-L1/2 play an important role in the function of APC. The regulation of the surface levels of costimulatory molecules is one mechanism by which APC maintain the balance between tolerance and immunity. We examined the contributions of B7-1/2 and PD-L1/2 to the function of IL-10-treated, immunosuppressive DC as well as therapeutic exosomes derived from these DC. IL-10 treatment of DC significantly downregulated surface expression of MHC II, B7-1, B7-2, and decreased levels of MHC I and PD-L2. IL-10 treatment of DC resulted in a modified costimulatory profile of DC-secreted exosomes with a reduction in B7-1, PD-L1 and PD-L2. We further demonstrate that absence of B7-1 or B7-2 on donor DC results in a loss of ability of IL-10-treated DC and their exosomes to suppress the delayed-type hypersensitivity response, whereas IL-10-treated DC deficient in PD-L1/2 as well as their secreted exosomes retained the ability to suppress delayed-type hypersensitivity responses. We conclude that B7-1 and B7-2, but not PD-L1 and PD-L2, on IL-10-treated DC and DC-derived exosomes play a critical role in immunosuppressive functions of both DC and exosomes.
PURPOSE: Programmed death-1 (PD-1) ligation downregulates active lymphocyte responses. The authors tested whether PD-1 or its ligands are expressed in the posterior segment during active intraocular inflammation.
METHODS: Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) was induced using interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP 161-180). Ocular inflammation was evaluated by histology and expression of PD-1 ligand tested by immunohistochemistry. PD-1 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, and Western immunoblotting.
RESULTS: Using immunohistochemistry, PD-1, but not its ligands, was constitutively expressed in retinal neurons of naive mouse retina. Both PD-1 and its ligands were observed, as expected, in sites of active inflammation.
CONCLUSIONS: PD-1 and its ligands were expressed in sites of active inflammation, in accordance with many other models of inflammatory disease. Surprisingly, PD-1, not previously described outside the immune system, was constitutively expressed in retinal neurons, raising the possibility that PD-1 signaling may be important for neuronal function in the absence of an inflammatory insult.
IL-27 has recently been identified as a differentiation factor for the generation of IL-10-producing regulatory type 1 (Tr1) T cells. However, how IL-27 induces the expansion of Tr1 cells has not been elucidated. In this study we demonstrate that IL-27 drives the expansion and differentiation of IL-10-producing murine Tr1 cells by inducing three key elements: the transcription factor c-Maf, the cytokine IL-21, and the costimulatory receptor ICOS. IL-27-driven c-Maf expression transactivates IL-21 production, which acts as an autocrine growth factor for the expansion and/or maintenance of IL-27-induced Tr1 cells. ICOS further promotes IL-27-driven Tr1 cells. Each of those elements is essential, because loss of c-Maf, IL-21-signaling, or ICOS decreases the frequency of IL-27-induced differentiation of IL-10-producing Tr1 cells.
It is generally acknowledged that cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4/CD152) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of T-cell activation and the establishment of self-tolerance in the periphery. CTLA-4-deficient (CTLA-4KO) mice develop a lymphoproliferative disorder and die within 4 weeks of birth, suggesting a role for CTLA-4 in T-cell homeostasis or the development and activity of T-regulatory (Treg) cells. To study the role of CTLA-4 in the control of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we have generated a CTLA-4KO mouse in which >90% of all CD4(+) T cells bear a Vbeta8.2 transgenic T-cell receptor that is specific for myelin basic protein peptide Ac1-9 (ASQKRPSQR). These mice do not develop spontaneous lymphoproliferative disease or EAE and are resistant to disease induction. This correlates with a higher frequency of functional FoxP3(+) Treg cells in the spleen and thymus of CTLA-4KO mice. The absence of CTLA-4-mediated suppression of CD28 signaling resulted in the early expression of FoxP3 on double-positive cells in the thymic cortex. We conclude that CTLA-4 is not essential for the peripheral function of FoxP3(+) Treg cells but plays a pivotal role in their thymic selection.
Idd5.1 regulates T1D susceptibility in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice and has two notable candidate genes, Ctla4 and Icos. Reduced expression of one of the four CTLA-4 isoforms, ligand-independent CTLA-4 (liCTLA-4), which inhibits in vitro T cell activation and cytokine production similarly to full-length CTLA-4 (flCTLA-4), has been hypothesized to increase type 1 diabetes (T1D) susceptibility. However, further support of this hypothesis is required since the Idd5.1 haplotypes of the diabetes-susceptible NOD and the resistant B10 strains differ throughout Ctla4 and Icos. Using haplotype analysis and the generation of novel Idd5.1-congenic strains that differ at the disease-associated Ctla4 exon 2 single-nucleotide polymorphism, we demonstrate that increased expression of liCTLA-4 correlates with reduced T1D susceptibility. To directly assess the ability of liCTLA-4 to modulate T1D, we generated liCTLA-4-transgenic NOD mice and compared their diabetes susceptibility to nontransgenic littermates. NOD liCTLA-4-transgenic mice were protected from T1D to the same extent as NOD.B10 Idd5.1-congenic mice, demonstrating that increased liCTLA-4 expression alone can account for disease protection. To further investigate the in vivo function of liCTLA-4, specifically whether liCTLA-4 can functionally replace flCTLA-4 in vivo, we expressed the liCTLA-4 transgene in CTLA-4(-/-) B6 mice. CTLA-4(-/-) mice expressing liCTLA-4 accumulated fewer activated effector/memory CD4(+) T cells than CTLA-4(-/-) mice and the transgenic mice were partially rescued from the multiorgan inflammation and early lethality caused by the disruption of Ctla4. These results suggest that liCTLA-4 can partially replace some functions of flCTLA-4 in vivo and that this isoform evolved to reinforce the function of flCTLA-4.
The B7 family member programmed death-1 ligand (PD-L1) has been shown to play an inhibitory role in the regulation of T cell responses in several organs. However, the role of PD-L1 in regulating tolerance to self-Ags of the small intestine has not been previously addressed. In this study, we investigated the role of PD-L1 in CD8(+) T cell tolerance to an intestinal epithelium-specific Ag using the iFABP-tOVA transgenic mouse model, in which OVA is expressed as a self-Ag throughout the small intestine. Using adoptive transfer of naive OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells, we show that loss of PD-1:PD-L1 signaling, by either Ab-mediated PD-L1 blockade or transfer of PD-1(-/-) T cells, leads to considerable expansion of OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells and their differentiation into effector cells capable of producing proinflammatory cytokines. A fatal CD8(+) T cell-mediated inflammatory response develops rapidly against the small bowel causing destruction of the epithelial barrier, severe blunting of intestinal villi, and recruitment and activation of myeloid cells. This response is highly specific because immune destruction selectively targets the small intestine but not other organs. Collectively, these results indicate that loss of the PD-1:PD-L1 inhibitory pathway breaks CD8(+) T cell tolerance to intestinal self-Ag, thus leading to severe enteric autoimmunity.
PURPOSE: Mammalian programmed cell death (PD)-1 is a membrane-associated receptor regulating the balance between T-cell activation, tolerance, and immunopathology; however, its role in neurons has not yet been defined. The hypothesis that PD-1 signaling actively promotes retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death within the developing mouse retina was investigated.
METHODS: Mature retinal cell types expressing PD-1 were identified by immunofluorescence staining of vertical retina sections; developmental expression was localized by immunostaining and quantified by Western blot analysis. PD-1 involvement in developmental RGC survival was assessed in vitro using retinal explants and in vivo using PD-1 knockout mice. PD-1 ligand gene expression was detected by RT-PCR.
RESULTS: PD-1 is expressed in most adult RGCs and undergoes dynamic upregulation during the early postnatal window of retinal cell maturation and physiological programmed cell death (PCD). In vitro blockade of PD-1 signaling during this time selectively increases the survival of RGCs. Furthermore, PD-1-deficient mice show a selective increase in RGC number in the neonatal retina at the peak of developmental RGC death. Lastly, gene expression of the immune PD-1 ligand genes Pdcd1lg1 and Pdcd1lg2 was found throughout postnatal retina maturation.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings collectively support a novel role for a PD-1-mediated signaling pathway in developmental PCD during postnatal RGC maturation.
Both the programmed death (PD) 1-PD-ligand (PD-L) pathway and regulatory T (T reg) cells are instrumental to the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. We demonstrate that PD-L1 has a pivotal role in regulating induced T reg (iT reg) cell development and sustaining iT reg cell function. PD-L1(-/-) antigen-presenting cells minimally convert naive CD4 T cells to iT reg cells, showing the essential role of PD-L1 for iT reg cell induction. PD-L1-coated beads induce iT reg cells in vitro, indicating that PD-L1 itself regulates iT reg cell development. Furthermore, PD-L1 enhances and sustains Foxp3 expression and the suppressive function of iT reg cells. The obligatory role for PD-L1 in controlling iT reg cell development and function in vivo is illustrated by a marked reduction in iT reg cell conversion and rapid onset of a fatal inflammatory phenotype in PD-L1(-/-)PD-L2(-/-) Rag(-/-) recipients of naive CD4 T cells. PD-L1 iT reg cell development is mediated through the down-regulation of phospho-Akt, mTOR, S6, and ERK2 and concomitant with the up-regulation of PTEN, all key signaling molecules which are critical for iT reg cell development. Thus, PD-L1 can inhibit T cell responses by promoting both the induction and maintenance of iT reg cells. These studies define a novel mechanism for iT reg cell development and function, as well as a new strategy for controlling T reg cell plasticity.
Programmed death 1 (PD-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, deliver inhibitory signals that regulate the balance between T cell activation, tolerance, and immunopathology. Immune responses to foreign and self-antigens require specific and balanced responses to clear pathogens and tumors and yet maintain tolerance. Induction and maintenance of T cell tolerance requires PD-1, and its ligand PD-L1 on nonhematopoietic cells can limit effector T cell responses and protect tissues from immune-mediated tissue damage. The PD-1:PD-L pathway also has been usurped by microorganisms and tumors to attenuate antimicrobial or tumor immunity and facilitate chronic infection and tumor survival. The identification of B7-1 as an additional binding partner for PD-L1, together with the discovery of an inhibitory bidirectional interaction between PD-L1 and B7-1, reveals new ways the B7:CD28 family regulates T cell activation and tolerance. In this review, we discuss current understanding of the immunoregulatory functions of PD-1 and its ligands and their therapeutic potential.
Therapeutic vaccination is a potentially promising strategy to enhance T cell immunity and viral control in chronically infected individuals. However, therapeutic vaccination approaches have fallen short of expectations, and effective boosting of antiviral T cell responses has not always been observed. One of the principal reasons for the limited success of therapeutic vaccination is that virus-specific T cells become functionally exhausted during chronic infections. We now provide a novel strategy for enhancing the efficacy of therapeutic vaccines. In this study, we show that blocking programmed death (PD)-1/PD-L1 inhibitory signals on exhausted CD8(+) T cells, in combination with therapeutic vaccination, synergistically enhances functional CD8(+) T cell responses and improves viral control in mice chronically infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. This combinatorial therapeutic vaccination was effective even in the absence of CD4(+) T cell help. Thus, our study defines a potent new approach to augment the efficacy of therapeutic vaccination by blocking negative signals. Such an approach may have broad applications in developing treatment strategies for chronic infections in general, and perhaps also for tumors.
The development of airway hyperreactivity (AHR), a cardinal feature of asthma, requires the presence of invariant NKT (iNKT) cells. In a mouse model of asthma, we demonstrated that the induction of AHR required ICOS costimulation of iNKT cells. ICOS was highly expressed on both naive and activated iNKT cells, and expression of ICOS was greater on the CD4(+) iNKT than on CD4(-) iNKT cells. Furthermore, the number of CD4(+) iNKT cells was significantly lower in spleens and livers of ICOS(-/-) and ICOSL(-/-) mice, and the remaining iNKT cells in ICOS(-/-) mice were dysfunctional and failed to reconstitute AHR when adoptively transferred into iNKT cell-deficient Jalpha18(-/-) mice. In addition, direct activation of iNKT cells with alpha-GalCer, which induced AHR in wild-type mice, failed to induce AHR in ICOS(-/-) mice. The failure of ICOS(-/-) iNKT cells to induce AHR was due in part to an inability of the ICOS(-/-) iNKT cells to produce IL-4 and IL-13 on activation. Moreover, survival of wild-type iNKT cells transferred into ICOSL(-/-) mice was greatly reduced due to the induction of apoptosis. These results indicate that ICOS costimulation plays a major role in induction of AHR by iNKT cells and is required for CD4(+) iNKT cell function, homeostasis, and survival in the periphery.
Suppression of T-cell responses by host-derived regulatory factors is a key event leading to viral persistence. Antibody blockade of either IL-10 or programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) during viral persistence enhances T-cell function and reduces viral titers. Because blockade of these immunoregulatory networks represents a powerful approach to establish immune control during persistent infection, it is important to determine whether these immunoinhibitory factors act independently or jointly and if combined blockade of these factors further enhances T-cell immunity and viral clearance. Herein, we demonstrate that the IL-10 and PD-L1 immunosuppressive pathways are mechanistically distinct. As a result, simultaneous blockade of IL-10 and PD-L1 was significantly more effective in restoring antiviral T-cell responses than blockade of either alone, and led to substantially enhanced control of an established persistent viral infection. Thus, combinatorial blockade of multiple immune-regulatory molecules may ultimately restore the T-cell responses required to tip the balance from viral persistence to immune-mediated control or elimination of persistent infection.
Numerous studies have pointed to the role of programmed death-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) in regulating tolerance, chronic infection, and tumor immunity. Recently, we have identified murine B7-1 as a new binding partner for murine PD-L1. Human and mouse B7-1 share only 46% identity, leading us to question whether human B7-1 and PD-L1 can participate in a similar interaction. Here we show that human B7-1 can interact with human PD-L1 with affinity greater than that of B7-1 with CD28, but less than that of B7-1 with CTLA-4 or of PD-L1 with PD-1. We characterize a series of anti-human PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies and identify antibodies that can block interactions of PD-L1 with B7-1, PD-1, or both. Since PD-L1 and CD28 on T cells may compete for B7-1 as a binding partner and CD8 T cells may express high or low levels of CD28, we examined when PD-L1 and CD28 are co-expressed on CD8 T cells. We compared the time-course and extent of PD-L1 induction on CD8 CD28high versus CD28low T cells following stimulation with anti-CD3. We show that PD-L1 is induced to a higher level on CD28high T cells than on CD28low T cells upon activation. These results suggest that PD-L1 may play an important and undervalued role on human T cells.