The effects of plasmid DNA and immunostimulatory CpG motifs on immune surveillance in sheep lymph nodes
Uwiera, Richard Robert Ernest
This Ph.D. dissertation examined the effects of bacterial DNA on immune surveillance in ovine lymph nodes (LN). The first study identified long-term changes in lymph nodes following exposure to plasmid DNA. Treated lymph nodes were heavier and had larger medullary areas. Furthermore, medullary cord thickness and medullary sinus width as well as germinal center size and number were increased in plasmid treated lymph nodes. To determine whether bacterial DNA altered cell trafficking through lymph nodes, the efferent lymphatic of the prescapular LN of sheep was cannulated and cells were collected. Intradermal injection of as little as 4 ìg of plasmid DNA expressing the green fluorescent protein of jellyfish (eGFP) caused a marked increase in the cell trafficking through the prescapular lymph node. A dose-dependent facet existed for this response, as the increase in cell trafficking response persisted longer with 40 ìg or 400 ìg of plasmid-eGFP than with 4 ìg. This increased cell trafficking was independent of green fluorescent protein expression as both pCAN1-eGFP and pCAN1 induced similar responses. Increased cell traffic induced by bacterial DNA was further characterized by determining whether bacterial DNA form was critical for this response. Treatment with intact plasmid (circular) DNA induced the greatest increase in cell traffic. In contrast, when plasmid DNA was digested with restriction enzymes into linear fragments of DNA, then cell trafficking was not significantly increased. Numerous studies have shown that immunostimulatory guanosine-cytosine (CpG) motifs activate cells in vitro and can improve protective immune responses in vivo. Therefore we tested the hypothesis that the presence of immunostimulatory CpG motifs within plasmids was responsible for altering cell trafficking. It was shown that plasmids with added immunostimulatory CpG sequences affected cell trafficking in a dose-dependent manner. The injection of 40 ìg pBISIA-88 caused an increase in cell trafficking while injecting 400 ìg pBISIA-88 failed to increase cell flow above control levels. Analysis of cell populations collected in efferent lymph gives insight into treatment effects on immune surveillance. This is well-studied following treatment with antigen and in general, antigen induces a selective movement of cells into lymph that occurs 24 hours post-treatment. In contrast, plasmid DNA induced a rapid, non-selective movement of lymphocytes through the lymph node, suggesting that bacterial DNA and antigen may affect cell trafficking by different mechanisms and thereby have distinct effects on immune surveillance. Short-term effects of bacterial DNA on lymph node architecture and cellular composition were also investigated to determine whether an increase in cell trafficking was associated with structural changes within the lymph node. While it was shown that bacterial DNA induced changes within a lymph node, including an increased number of germinal centers and an increased frequency of CD72+CD21+ B cells, these changes were not correlated to increased cell trafficking. In summary, bacterial DNA altered immune surveillance in sheep lymph nodes by changing cell traffic and lymph node architecture and composition. Many of these responses differed from responses observed by others following antigen treatment. The present observations suggest that bacterial DNA can function as an important signal to modulate immune surveillance and host responses to infections by pathogens.