Deletion of IL-4 Receptor Alpha on Dendritic Cells Renders BALB/c Mice Hypersusceptible to Leishmania major Infection

Hurdayal, Ramona; Nieuwenhuizen, Natalie E.; Revaz-Breton, Mélanie; Smith, Liezel; Hoving, Jennifer C.; Parihar, Suraj P.; Reizis, Boris; Brombacher, Frank

In BALB/c mice, susceptibility to infection with the intracellular parasite Leishmania major is driven largely by the development of T helper 2 (Th2) responses and the production of interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, which share a common receptor subunit, the IL-4 receptor alpha chain (IL-4Rα). While IL-4 is the main inducer of Th2 responses, paradoxically, it has been shown that exogenously administered IL-4 can promote dendritic cell (DC) IL-12 production and enhance Th1 development if given early during infection. To further investigate the relevance of biological quantities of IL-4 acting on DCs during in vivo infection, DC specific IL-4Rα deficient (CD11ccreIL-4Rα-/lox) BALB/c mice were generated by gene targeting and site-specific recombination using the cre/loxP system under control of the cd11c locus. DNA, protein, and functional characterization showed abrogated IL-4Rα expression on dendritic cells and alveolar macrophages in CD11ccreIL-4Rα-/lox mice. Following infection with L. major, CD11ccreIL-4Rα-/lox mice became hypersusceptible to disease, presenting earlier and increased footpad swelling, necrosis and parasite burdens, upregulated Th2 cytokine responses and increased type 2 antibody production as well as impaired classical activation of macrophages. Hypersusceptibility in CD11ccreIL-4Rα-/lox mice was accompanied by a striking increase in parasite burdens in peripheral organs such as the spleen, liver, and even the brain. DCs showed increased parasite loads in CD11ccreIL-4Rα-/lox mice and reduced iNOS production. IL-4Rα-deficient DCs produced reduced IL-12 but increased IL-10 due to impaired DC instruction, with increased mRNA expression of IL-23p19 and activin A, cytokines previously implicated in promoting Th2 responses. Together, these data demonstrate that abrogation of IL-4Rα signaling on DCs is severely detrimental to the host, leading to rapid disease progression, and increased survival of parasites in infected DCs due to reduced killing effector functions.


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Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection
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November 22, 2016