Natural and Synthetic Tlr7 Ligands Inhibit CpG-A- and CpG-C-Oligodeoxynucleotide-Induced Ifn- Production

Berghofer, B.; Haley, G.; Frommer, T.; Bein, G.; Hackstein, H.

The Journal of Immunology 178(7): 4072-4079


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.178.7.4072
Accession: 068490591

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Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are unique with respect to their capacity to produce unsurpassed amounts of IFN-alpha and coexpress TLR7 and TLR9, mediating IFN-alpha production. Although TLRs are critical receptors of innate immunity, little is known about the immunological effects of TLR7/TLR9 costimulation. We have analyzed the effects of TLR7/TLR9 costimulation on IFN-alpha production by leukocytes and pDCs. Our experiments revealed that both synthetic (resiquimod and loxoribine) and natural (ssRNA40) TLR7 ligands abrogate CpG-A- and CpG-C-oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN)-induced IFN-alpha production by human leukocytes. Because TLR7 ligands themselves represent important IFN-alpha inducers, we demonstrated that substimulatory TLR7 ligand concentrations significantly inhibited CpG-A-induced IFN-alpha. Delayed addition of TLR7 ligands still resulted in complete suppression of CpG-A-ODN-induced IFN-alpha production, suggesting that the inhibition is unlikely to be caused by a kinetic uptake advantage. Unlike for CpG-A and CpG-C, TLR7 ligands did not inhibit CpG-B-ODN-induced IFN-alpha production. Experiments with purified human pDCs demonstrated that the inhibitory effects of TLR7/TLR9 costimulation were mediated directly by pDCs. Suppression of IFN-alpha production was not related to increased cell death and was also detectable in enriched mouse pDCs. Analyses of pDCs suggested that the TLR7 signal regulates the outcome of TLR7 ligand/CpG-A-ODN costimulation and can either inhibit (IFN-alpha) or promote (IL-8/CD40) cytokine and surface marker expression. Our data reveal for the first time a strong inhibitory effect of TLR7 stimulation on IFN-alpha production induced by CpG-A- and CpG-C-ODNs. These findings provide novel insight into the effects of TLR7/TLR9 costimulation and may support the development of novel TLR9 inhibitors.