ABSTRACT: Exogenous activation of pulmonary invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, a population of lipid-reactive αβ T lymphocytes, with use of mucosal α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) administration, is a promising approach to control respiratory bacterial infections. We undertook the present study to characterize mechanisms leading to α-GalCer-mediated protection against lethal infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 1, a major respiratory pathogen in humans.
α-GalCer was administered by the intranasal route before infection with S. pneumoniae. We showed that respiratory dendritic cells (DCs), most likely the CD103(+) subset, play a major role in the activation (IFN-γ and IL-17 release) of pulmonary iNKT cells, whereas alveolar and interstitial macrophages are minor players. After challenge, S. pneumoniae was rapidly (4 hours) eliminated in the alveolar spaces, a phenomenon that depended on respiratory DCs and neutrophils, but not macrophages, and on the early production of both IFN-γ and IL-17. Protection was also associated with the synthesis of various interferon-dependent and IL-17-associated genes as revealed by transcriptomic analysis.
These data imply a new function for pulmonary CD103(+) DCs in mucosal activation of iNKT cells and establish a critical role for both IFN-γ and IL-17 signalling pathways in mediating the innate immune response to S. pneumoniae.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 06/2012; 206(5):723-34. · 6.41 Impact Factor