Innate and adaptive immune responses in the lungs. Contribution to protection against mycobacterial infections

University dissertation from Stockholm : The Wenner-Gren Institute, Stockholm University

Abstract: Host defense against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is mediated by a combination of innate and adaptive immunity. In this thesis we investigated the role of components of innate system such as TLR2 signalling and alveolar epithelial cells type II (AEC II) in the immune responses against mycobacterial infections.Since TLR2 has been shown to be important in the defense against mycobacterial infections; in paper I we investigated the role of TLR2 to generate acquired immune responses. We compared both humoral and cellular immune responses in TLR2-/- and WT (wild type) mice immunized with the mycobacterial antigens 19kDa (TLR2 ligand) or Ag85A (non-TLR2 ligand). We did not find any differences in the humoral responses in both mouse strains. However, we found some deficiencies in the T cell memory compartment of TLR2-/- mice immunized with 19kDa. In addition, the antigen presenting cells (APC) compartment in TLR2-/- mice, for instance bone marrow derived macrophages (BMM) and pulmonary macrophages (PM) in this study, has also shown deficiencies. This effect was more evident when PM were used as APC. We next evaluated the responses in both BMM and PM upon stimulation with anti-CD40 and TLR ligands where PM were the low responders to TLR2 ligand and to anti-CD40 both in the production of different cytokines and in the up-regulation of the co-stimulatory molecules. Together, our results have demonstrated the importance of TLR2 in the generation of specific immune responses.In paper II, we investigated the role of AEC II in the defense against mycobacterial infections. AEC II have been suggested to play an important role in the local immune responses to inhaled pathogens. First, we compared murine AEC II with PM in their ability to take up and control mycobacterial growth and their capacity as APCs. AEC II were able to internalize and control bacterial growth as well as presenting antigen to memory T cells. In addition, both cells types were compared in their capacity to produce cytokines, chemokines and other factors where AEC II exhibited a different pattern of secretion than PM. Also, a more complete profile of AEC II responses reveled that AEC II were able to secrete different factors important to generated various effects in others cells. The major finding in this study was that upon TNF, AEC II produced MCP-1 a chemokine involved in the recruitment monocytes/macrophages to the sites of infection. Since TNF is predominantely produced by macrophages, we speculate that both cell types may communicate and influence each other. In conclusion, our results provide more evidence of the important role of AEC II in the immune responses in the respiratory tract.