Take a glance at our latest publications.

The studies carried out at the IRT group have been published by prestigious journals covering the fields of Rheumatology, Immunology and Cell Biology, among others.

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Corina Peña, David Gárate, Juan Contreras-Levicoy, Octavio Aravena, Diego Catalán, and Juan C. Aguillón. Dexamethasone Preconditioning Improves the Response of Collagen-Induced Arthritis to Treatment with Short-Term Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Collagen-Loaded Dendritic Cells. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 296031.

Background. Pharmacologically modulated dendritic cells (DCs) have been shown to restore tolerance in type II collagen-(CII-) induced arthritis (CIA). We examined the effect of dexamethasone (DXM) administration as a preconditioning agent, followed by an injection of lipopolysaccharide-(LPS-) stimulated and CII-loaded DCs on the CIA course. Methods. After CIA induction, mice pretreated with DXM were injected with 4-hour LPS-stimulated DCs loaded with CII (DXM/4hLPS/CII/DCs). Results. Mice injected with DXM/4hLPS/CII/DCs displayed significantly less severe clinical disease compared to animals receiving 4hLPS/CII/DCs alone or those in which only DXM was administered. Cytokine profile evaluation showed that CD4+ T cells from DXM/4hLPS/CII/DCs and 4hLPS/CII/DCs groups release higher IL-10 levels than those from mice receiving DXM alone or CIA mice. CD4+ T cells from all DC-treated groups showed less IL-17 release when compared to the CIA group. On the contrary, CD4+ T cells from DXM/4hLPS/CII/DCs and 4hLPS/CII/DCs groups released higher IFN-γ levels than those from CIA group. Conclusion. A combined treatment, including DXM preconditioning followed by an inoculation of short-term LPS-stimulated CII-loaded DCs, provides an improved strategy for attenuating CIA severity. Our results suggest that this benefit is driven by a modulation in the cytokine profile secreted by CD4+ T cells. see more

García-González P, Morales R, Hoyos L, Maggi J, Campos J, Pesce B, Gárate D, Larrondo M, González R, Soto L, Ramos V, Tobar P, Molina MC, Pino-Lagos K, Catalán D, Aguillón JC. A short protocol using dexamethasone and monophosphoryl lipid A generates tolerogenic dendritic cells that display a potent migratory capacity to lymphoid chemokines. J Transl Med. 2013 May 24;11:128.

BACKGROUND: Generation of tolerogenic dendritic cells (TolDCs) for therapy is challenging due to its implications for the design of protocols suitable for clinical applications, which means not only using safe products, but also working at defining specific biomarkers for TolDCs identification, developing shorter DCs differentiation methods and obtaining TolDCs with a stable phenotype. We describe here, a short-term protocol for TolDCs generation, which are characterized in terms of phenotypic markers, cytokines secretion profile, CD4+ T cell-stimulatory ability and migratory capacity. METHODS: TolDCs from healthy donors were generated by modulation with dexamethasone plus monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA-tDCs). We performed an analysis of MPLA-tDCs in terms of yield, viability, morphology, phenotypic markers, cytokines secretion profile, stability, allogeneic and antigen-specific CD4+ T-cell stimulatory ability and migration capacity. RESULTS: After a 5-day culture, MPLA-tDCs displayed reduced expression of costimulatory and maturation molecules together to an anti-inflammatory cytokines secretion profile, being able to maintain these tolerogenic features even after the engagement of CD40 by its cognate ligand. In addition, MPLA-tDCs exhibited reduced capabilities to stimulate allogeneic and antigen-specific CD4+ T cell proliferation, and induced an anti-inflammatory cytokine secretion pattern. Among potential tolerogenic markers studied, only TLR-2 was highly expressed in MPLA-tDCs when compared to mature and immature DCs. Remarkable, like mature DCs, MPLA-tDCs displayed a high CCR7 and CXCR4 expression, both chemokine receptors involved in migration to secondary lymphoid organs, and even more, in an in vitro assay they exhibited a high migration response towards CCL19 and CXCL12.CONCLUSION: We describe a short-term protocol for TolDC generation, which confers them a stable phenotype and migratory capacity to lymphoid chemokines, essential features for TolDCs to be used as therapeutics for autoimmunity and prevention of graft rejection. see more

Pesce B, Soto L, Sabugo F, Wurmann P, Cuchacovich M, López MN, Sotelo PH, Molina MC, Aguillón JC, Catalán D. Effect of interleukin-6 receptor blockade on the balance between regulatory T cells and T helper type 17 cells in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Mar;171(3):237-42.

A new paradigm has emerged relating the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), focused on the balance between T helper type 17 cells and regulatory T cells (T(regs) ). In humans, both subpopulations depend on transforming growth factor (TGF)-β for their induction, but in the presence of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-6, the generation of Th17 is favoured. Tocilizumab is a therapeutic antibody targeting the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), which has demonstrated encouraging results in RA. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of tocilizumab on Th1 cells, Th17 cells, IL-17 and interferon (IFN)-γ double secretors Th17/Th1 cells, and T(regs) in RA patients. Eight RA patients received tocilizumab monthly for 24 weeks and blood samples were obtained every 8 weeks to study T cell populations by flow cytometry. The frequency of Th17 cells, Th1 cells and Th17/Th1 cells was evaluated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) activated in vitro with a polyclonal stimulus. T(regs) were identified by their expression of forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3) and CD25 by direct staining of PBMCs. Although no changes were detected in the frequency of Th1 or Th17 cells, the percentages of peripheral T(regs) increased after therapy. In addition, the infrequent Th17/Th1 subpopulation showed a significant increment in tocilizumab-treated patients. In conclusion, tocilizumab was able to skew the balance between Th17 cells and T(regs) towards a more protective status, which may contribute to the clinical improvement observed in RA patients. see more

Gárate D, Rojas-Colonelli N, Peña C, Salazar L, Abello P, Pesce B, Aravena O, García-González P, Ribeiro CH, Molina MC, Catalán D, Aguillón JC. Blocking of p38 and transforming growth factor β receptor pathways impairs the ability of tolerogenic dendritic cells to suppress murine arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Jan;65(1):120-9.

OBJECTIVE: Dendritic cells (DCs) modulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) are able to reduce inflammation when therapeutically administered into mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The aim of this study was to uncover the mechanisms that define the tolerogenic effect of short-term LPS-modulated DCs on CIA. METHODS: Bone marrow-derived DCs were stimulated for 4 hours with LPS and characterized for their expression of maturation markers and their cytokine secretion profiles. Stimulated cells were treated with SB203580 or SB431542 to inhibit the p38 or transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) receptor pathway, respectively, or were left unmodified and, on day 35 after CIA induction, were used to inoculate mice. Disease severity was evaluated clinically. CD4+ T cell populations were counted in the spleen and lymph nodes from inoculated or untreated mice with CIA. CD4+ splenic T cells were transferred from mice with CIA treated with LPS-stimulated DCs or from untreated mice with CIA into other mice with CIA on day 35 of arthritis. RESULTS: Treatment with LPS-stimulated DCs increased the numbers of interleukin-10 (IL-10)-secreting and TGFβ-secreting CD4+ T cells, but decreased the numbers of Th17 cells. Adoptive transfer of CD4+ T cells from treated mice with CIA reproduced the inhibition of active CIA accomplished with LPS-stimulated DCs. The therapeutic effect of LPS-stimulated DCs and their influence on T cell populations were abolished when the p38 and the TGFβ receptor pathways were inhibited. CONCLUSION: DCs modulated short-term (4 hours) with LPS are able to confer a sustained cure in mice with established arthritis by re-educating the CD4+ T cell populations. This effect is dependent on the p38 and the TGFβ receptor signaling pathways, which suggests the participation of IL-10 and TGFβ in the recovery of tolerance. see more

Catalán D, Aravena O, Zúñiga R, Silva N, Escobar A, Sabugo F, Wurmann P, Soto L, González R, Alfaro J, Larrondo M, Cuchacovich M, and Aguillón JC. Weak CD4+ T cell responses to citrullinated vimentin in rheumatoid arthritis patients carrying HLA-DR9 alleles. Rheumatol Int. 2012 Jun;32(6):1819-25. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Citrullinated vimentin (cVIM) is one of the antigens specifically targeted by anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. The association between ACPA and certain HLA-DRB1 alleles, those coding for the shared epitope (SE), suggests that this response could be T-cell mediated. HLA-DR9 alleles, which do not code for the SE, have recently been associated with ACPA (+) RA. The objective of this work was to study CD4+ T cell responses to cVIM in RA patients and healthy controls carrying HLA-DR9 alleles. Fourteen RA patients and ten healthy controls previously genotyped for HLA-DRB1 were studied for the presence of serum anti-cVIM antibodies by Western blot and ELISA. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with native vimentin and cVIM, and CD4+ T cells proliferation was assessed by flow cytometry. Citrulline-specific CD4+ T cells proliferation was found not only in RA patients but also in healthy controls. Although most patients carrying HLA-DR9 alleles present anti-cVIM antibodies, HLA-DR9 alleles were associated with weaker cVIM-driven CD4+ T-cell responses among RA patients. These results suggest that HLA-DR9 alleles could exert a protective effect on the recognition of cVIM epitopes by CD4+ T cells. In this context, other citrullinated proteins may break T and B cell tolerance, with cVIM only acting as a cross-reactive target for ACPA. see more

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