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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 7;110(19):7826-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219888110. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Targeted delivery of lipid antigen to macrophages via the CD169/sialoadhesin endocytic pathway induces robust invariant natural killer T cell activation.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, and Chemical Physiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells induce a protective immune response triggered by foreign glycolipid antigens bound to CD1d on antigen-presenting cells (APCs). A limitation of using glycolipid antigens to stimulate immune responses in human patients has been the inability to target them to the most effective APCs. Recent studies have implicated phagocytic CD169(+) macrophages as major APCs in lymph nodes for priming iNKT cells in mice immunized with glycolipid antigen in particulate form. CD169 is known as sialoadhesin (Sn), a macrophage-specific adhesion and endocytic receptor of the siglec family that recognizes sialic acid containing glycans as ligands. We have recently developed liposomes decorated with glycan ligands for CD169/Sn suitable for targeted delivery to macrophages via CD169/Sn-mediated endocytosis. Here we show that targeted delivery of a lipid antigen to CD169(+) macrophages in vivo results in robust iNKT cell activation in liver and spleen using nanogram amounts of antigen. Activation of iNKT cells is abrogated in Cd169(-/-) mice and is macrophage-dependent, demonstrating that targeting CD169(+) macrophages is sufficient for systemic activation of iNKT cells. When pulsed with targeted liposomes, human monocyte-derived dendritic cells expressing CD169/Sn activated human iNKT cells, demonstrating the conservation of the CD169/Sn endocytic pathway capable of presenting lipid antigens to iNKT cells.


antigen delivery; antigen presentation; immune modulation

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