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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 26;109(26):10486-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202607109. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

Presensitizing with a Toll-like receptor 3 ligand impairs CD8 T-cell effector differentiation and IL-33 responsiveness.

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Department of Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


The synthetic double-stranded RNA poly(I:C) is commonly used as an adjuvant to boost CD8 T-cell function; however, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)] can also suppress autoimmune disease. The mechanism by which a single adjuvant achieves two distinct immunoregulatory roles is unknown. Although it is clear that coadministration of poly(I:C) with antigen elicits strong adjuvant effects in mice, we found that poly(I:C) injection before antigen substantially reduced antigen-dependent CD8 T-cell responses. Notably, CD8 T cells sensitized in poly(I:C)-pretreated mice failed to fully up-regulate IL-33R (ST2), which led to impaired T-cell receptor-independent responses to IL-33. In contrast, nonsensitized effector CD8 T cells responded robustly to IL-33 using a two-signal cytokine mechanism. During an acute lung response to Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin, peripheral injection of poly(I:C) manifested a suppressive process by inhibiting the differentiation of both antigen- and IL-33-responsive CD8 effectors systemically. These findings highlight that early exposure to double-stranded RNA reverses its role as an adjuvant and, importantly, prevents IL-33R up-regulation on CD8 effector T cells to dampen inflammation.

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