Alternative activation of dendritic cells
Jones, Lucy Helen
The alternative activation of macrophage populations by Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is well characterised. Alternatively activated macrophages (AAM) express high levels of the arginine converting enzyme arginase-1, and express a plethora of IL-4 driven molecules including the resistin like molecule alpha (RELMα) and the chitinase like molecule Ym1/2. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the professional antigen presenting cells (APC) of the immune system, responsible for the detection of invading pathogens, secretion of cytokines and the subsequent activation of T-cells. This thesis addresses whether IL-4 is able to ‘alternatively activate’ DCs both in vitro and in vivo, in a manner similar to that of AAM. The impact of IL-4 on DC and macrophage activation was compared and contrasted, and it was confirmed for the first time that IL-4 can alternatively activate DCs, inducing high level expression of a range of alternative activation associated markers including RELMα, Ym1/2, CCL24 and dectin-1, with the exception of arginase. DCs were significantly more capable at the in vivo priming of T-cell responses in the context of both Th1 and Th2 polarising antigens than similarly exposed macrophages, confirming their superior capacity as APC. The requirements for DC IL-4Rα expression were assessed, and IL-4 responsiveness was found to be required for the optimal induction of Th1 responses. Conversely, selective loss of only one facet of the IL-4 response, namely RELMα expression, limited the ability of IL-4 exposed DCs to induce the regulatory cytokine IL-10 both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, alternatively activated DCs (AADCs) were found in the spleen following 8 weeks of infection with the parasitic trematode Schistosoma mansoni, highlighting a role for DC alternative activation in a disease setting. IL-4 was shown to induce expression of the vitamin A converting enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, and the product of such activity, retinoic acid (RA), was found to promote the expression of RELMα in IL-4 exposed DCs. Aldehyde dehydrogenase activity was found to inversely correlate with DC expression of Ym1/2 and inhibition of RA signalling limited IL-4 driven RELMα and promoted Ym1/2.