Human dendritic cell (DC)-based anti-infective therapy: engineering DCs to secrete functional IFN-gamma and IL-12

S S Ahuja, S Mummidi, H L Malech, S K Ahuja
Journal of Immunology 1998 July 15, 161 (2): 868-76
An imbalance in the Th1- and Th2-type cytokine responses may allow certain microbes to modify the host response to favor their own persistence. We now show that infection/pulsing of human CD34+ peripheral blood hemopoietic progenitor cell-derived dendritic cells (DCs) with Leishmania donovani promastigotes, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Mycobacterium kansasii impairs the constitutive production of IL-12 from these cells. Thus, strategies aimed at modulating a dysregulated Th1/Th2 response to infection would be of great interest. To both augment the host immune response and deliver potent immunomodulatory cytokines such as IL-12 and IFN-gamma, our goal is to develop a therapeutic strategy using genetically modified, microbial Ag-pulsed DCs. Toward developing such immunotherapies, we used retrovirus-mediated somatic gene transfer techniques to engineer human DCs to secrete biologically active IL-12 and IFN-gamma. DCs pulsed with microbial antigens (e.g., leishmania and histoplasma Ags) were capable of inducing proliferative responses in autologous CD4+ lymphocytes. CD4+ lymphocytes cocultured with IL-12-transduced autologous DCs had enhanced Ag-specific proliferative responses compared with CD4+ lymphocytes cocultured with nontransduced or IFN-gamma- transduced DCs. In this cell culture model system we demonstrate that IL-12 has a negative effect on IL-4 secretion that is independent of its ability to induce IFN-gamma secretion. Taken together, these results indicate that IL-12-transduced DCs may be specifically suited in inducing or down-modulating Ag-specific Th1 or Th2 responses, respectively, and thus may be useful as adjunctive therapy in those intracellular infections in which a dominant Th1 response is critical for the resolution of infection.

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