Modulation of dendritic cells and autoimmunity by apoptotic and necrotic cells

  • Jonathan Miller

    Student thesis: Phd


    As the principal antigen-presenting cells to T cells, dendritic cells (DCs) have a key role in the balance of immunity and autoimmunity. They are essential in two major, converse roles - eliciting T cell immune responses to pathogenic material, and maintaining peripheral tolerance to self-tissue by inhibiting self-reactive T cells. These functions involve the processing of pathogenic or self antigens and subsequent presentation of antigenic peptides on MHC to antigen-specific T cells. DC recognition of conserved pathogenic markers induces a mature phenotype that governs immunogenic presentation to T cells and, consequently, the adaptive immune response. In contrast, DC recognition of self tissue suppresses maturation, instead inducing a tolerogenic phenotype that induces self antigen-specific T cell to die, become anergised, or converted to T regulatory cells. Apoptotic cells are the major source of self-antigen for the maintenance of peripheral tolerance, and their defective clearance by DCs is implicated in autoimmunity. Apoptotic cells are thought to actively suppress maturation of DCs and inhibit the possible immune responses promoted by proinflammatory mediators released from necrotic cells. However, the immune function of apoptotic cells and their relative influence over necrotic cells are highly contested, partially due to the complex nature of immunogenicity arising from the sourcing and generation of apoptotic cells. In this investigation, various methods of inducing apoptosis and necrosis are evaluated. Definitive methods of inducing well-characterised cell death are then employed to compare the effects of apoptotic and necrotic cells on dendritic cells and in vitro and in vivo immune responses. Reported here are in vitro findings that support previous reports of the anti-inflammatory response of DCs to apoptotic cells, and the inflammatory response of DCs to necrotic cells. The previously-reported inhibitory effect of apoptotic cells on LPS-induced secretion of Th1 cytokines is supported here, but the inhibitory effect of apoptotic cells on LPS-induced upregulation of co-stimulatory molecules is contested. Novel findings describe the upregulation of DC expression of co-inhibitory molecules induced by both apoptotic cells and necrotic cells. Apoptotic cells, but not necrotic cells, had a suppressive effect on CpG-induced upregulation of co-stimulatory molecules and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Apoptotic cells suppressed the capacity of untreated and CpG-treated, but not LPS-treated, DCs to elicit IFN╬│ production by T cells. Apoptotic cells, but not necrotic cells, induced regulatory T cells and partially restored their CpG-suppressed induction. Finally, apoptotic cell-modulation of DCs inhibited the induction of autoimmunity in a novel modification of an in vivo model of diabetes. Interestingly, novel evidence for the possibility of necrotic cell-induced tolerance by means of direct T cell killing is addressed.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorDouglas Millar (Supervisor) & Richard Grencis (Supervisor)


    • Dendritic cell
    • Autoimmunity
    • Immune tolerance
    • Apoptotic cell
    • Necrotic cell

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