Control of Th2 Polarisation by Dendritic Cells and Natural Killer cells

  • Katherine Walwyn-Brown

Student thesis: Phd


Type 2 (Th2) immune responses are required for immune defence against helminths, but can also have pathogenic effects in allergic conditions. This thesis examined two factors which may influence Th2 immunity at a cellular and molecular level: cross-talk between Natural Killer (NK) cells and dendritic cells (DCs) and the cell surface organisation of DCs. Cross-talk between NK cells and DCs is well-established to impact Th1 responses against tumours and infection; however the influence of this interaction during Th2 inflammation is unknown. To investigate this, human monocyte-derived DCs were stimulated in vitro with different pathogen-associated molecules; LPS or Poly(I:C) which polarise a Th1 response, or soluble egg antigen (SEA) from the helminth worm Schistosoma mansoni, a potent Th2-inducing antigen. These cells were then combined with autologous NK cells. Confocal microscopy showed polarisation of the NK cell microtubule organising centre (MTOC) and accumulation of LFA-1 at contacts between NK cells and immature or Th2-polarising DCs, but not Th1-polarising DCs, indicative of the assembly of an activating immune synapse. NK cells did not lyse DCs treated with LPS or Poly(I:C), but degranulated to and lysed both immature DCs and Th2 polarising DCs. Antibody blockade of NK cell activating receptors NKp30 and DNAM-1 prevented this lysis. Furthermore, depletion of NK cells in mice which were then transferred with Th2 polarising DCs led to an enhanced Th2 recall response. Thus, these data indicate a previously unrecognised role of NK cell cytotoxicity in restricting the pool of DCs involved in Th2 immune responses. Secondly, this thesis investigated the nanoscale organisation of MHC-II on the surface of Th1 and Th2 polarising DCs using ground state depletion super-resolution microscopy. MHC-II was relatively homogenously distributed across the membrane with no significant changes in clustering between immature, Th1 and Th2 polarising DCs. In contrast, imaging CD74, which can mediate internalisation of MHC-II, revealed increased expression and a more homogenous distribution of this receptor on the surface of Th2-polarising DCs compared to Th1-polarising DCs. These data suggest that changes in the clustering of CD74 could modulate MHC-II surface expression during Th2 responses. Overall, the results in this thesis indicate that both molecular and cellular level modulation of DC function contribute to the development of Th2 responses.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDaniel Davis (Supervisor) & Andrew MacDonald (Supervisor)


  • Th2
  • Dendritic Cell
  • Natural Killer cell
  • helminth
  • MHC-II

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