Primary Immune Deficiency Diseases

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PART 15: Immune-Mediated, Inflammatory, and Rheumatologic Disorders





Introduction to the Immune System

Barton F. Haynes, Kelly A. Soderberg, Anthony S. Fauci


•   Adaptive immune system—recently evolved system of immune responses mediated by T and B lymphocytes. Immune responses by these cells are based on specific antigen recognition by clonotypic receptors that are products of genes that rearrange during development and throughout the life of the organism. Additional cells of the adaptive immune system include various types of antigen-presenting cells.

•   Antibody—B cell–produced molecules encoded by genes that re-arrange during B cell development consisting of immunoglobulin heavy and light chains that together form the central component of the B cell receptor for antigen. Antibody can exist as B cell–surface antigen-recognition molecules or as secreted molecules in plasma and other body fluids.

•   Antigens—foreign or self-molecules that are recognized by the adaptive and innate immune systems resulting in immune cell triggering, T cell activation, and/or B cell antibody production.

•   Antimicrobial peptides—small peptides <100 amino acids in length that are produced by cells of the innate immune system and have anti-infectious agent activity.

•   Apoptosis—the process of programmed cell death whereby signaling through various “death receptors” on the surface of cells (e.g., tumor necrosis factor [TNF] receptors, CD95) leads to a signaling cascade that involves activation of the caspase family of molecules and leads to DNA cleavage and cell death. Apoptosis, which does not lead to induction of inordinate inflammation, is to be contrasted with cell necrosis, which does lead to induction of inflammatory responses.

•   Autoimmune diseases—diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis in which cells of the adaptive immune system such as autoreactive T and B cells become overreactive and produce self-reactive T cell and antibody responses.

•   Autoinflammatory diseases—hereditary disorders such as hereditary periodic fevers (HPFs) characterized by recurrent episodes of severe inflammation and fever due to mutations in controls of the innate inflammatory response, i.e., the inflammasome (see below and Table 372e-6). Patients with HPFs also have rashes and serosal and joint inflammation, and some can have neurologic symptoms. Autoinflammatory diseases are different from autoimmune diseases in that evidence for activation of adaptive immune cells such as autoreactive B cells is not present.

•   B cell receptor for antigen—complex of surface molecules that rearrange during postnatal B cell development, made up of surface immunoglobulin (Ig) and associated Ig αβ chain molecules that recognize nominal antigen via Ig heavy- and light-chain variable regions, and signal the B cell to terminally differentiate to make antigen-specific antibody.

•   B lymphocytes—bone marrow-derived or bursal-equivalent lymphocytes that express surface immunoglobulin (the B cell receptor for antigen) and secrete specific antibody after interaction with antigen.

•   CD classification of human lymphocyte differentiation antigens—the development of monoclonal antibody technology led to the discovery of a large number of new leukocyte surface molecules. In 1982, the First International Workshop on Leukocyte Differentiation Antigens was held to establish a nomenclature for cell-surface molecules of human leukocytes. From this and subsequent leukocyte differentiation workshops has come the cluster of differentiation (CD) classification of leukocyte antigens.

•   Chemokines—soluble molecules that direct and determine immune cell movement and circulation pathways.

•   Complement—cascading series of plasma enzymes and effector proteins whose function is to lyse pathogens and/or target them to be phagocytized by neutrophils and monocyte/macrophage lineage cells of the reticuloendothelial system.

•   Co-stimulatory molecules—molecules of antigen-presenting cells (such as B7-1 and B7-2 or CD40) that lead to T cell activation when bound by ligands on activated T cells (such as CD28 or CD40 ligand).

•   Cytokines—soluble proteins that interact with specific cellular receptors that are involved in the regulation of the growth and activation of immune cells and mediate normal and pathologic inflammatory and immune responses.

•   Dendritic cells—myeloid and/or lymphoid lineage antigen-presenting cells of the adaptive immune system. Immature dendritic cells, or dendritic cell precursors, are key components of the innate immune system by responding to infections with production of high levels of cytokines. Dendritic cells are key initiators both of innate immune responses via cytokine production and of adaptive immune responses via presentation of antigen to T lymphocytes.

•   Ig Fc receptors—receptors found on the surface of certain cells including B cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and mast cells. Fc receptors bind to antibodies that have attached to invading pathogen-infected cells. They stimulate cytotoxic cells to destroy microbe-infected cells through a mechanism known as antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Examples of important Fc receptors include CD16 (FcγRIIIa), CD23 (FcεR), CD32 (FcγRII), CD64 (FcγRI), and CD89 (FcαR).

•   Inflammasome—large cytoplasmic complexes of intracellular proteins that link the sensing of microbial products and cellular stress to the proteolytic activation of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 inflammatory cytokines. Activation of molecules in the inflammasome is a key step in the response of the innate immune system for intracellular recognition of microbial and other danger signals in both health and pathologic states.

•   Innate immune system—ancient immune recognition system of host cells bearing germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors that recognize pathogens and trigger a variety of mechanisms of pathogen elimination. Cells of the innate immune system include natural killer cell lymphocytes, monocytes/macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, tissue mast cells, and epithelial cells.

•   Large granular lymphocytes—lymphocytes of the innate immune system with azurophilic cytotoxic granules that have natural killer cell activity capable of killing foreign and host cells with few or no self-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules.

•   Natural killer (NK) cells—large granular lymphocytes that kill target cells expressing few or no human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules, such as malignantly transformed cells and virally infected cells. NK cells express receptors that inhibit killer cell function when self-MHC class I is present.

•   NK T cells—innate-like lymphocytes that use an invariant T cell receptor (TCR)-α chain combined with a limited set of TCR-β chains and coexpress receptors commonly found on NK cells. NK T cells recognize lipid antigens of bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infectious agents.

•   Pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs)—Invariant molecular structures expressed by large groups of microorganisms that are recognized by host cellular pattern recognition receptors in the mediation of innate immunity.

•   Pattern recognition receptors (PRRs)—germline-encoded receptors expressed by cells of the innate immune system that recognize PAMPs.

•   Polyreactive natural antibodies—preexisting low-affinity antibodies produced by B cells that cross-react with multiple antigens and are available at the time of infection to bind to and coat the invading pathogen and harness innate responses to slow the infection until an adaptive high-affinity protective antibody response can be made.

•   T cell exhaustion—state of T cells when the persistence of antigen disrupts memory T cell function, resulting in defects in memory T cell responses. Most frequently occurs in malignancies and in chronic viral infections such as HIV-1 and hepatitis C.

•   T cell receptor (TCR) for antigen—complex of surface molecules that rearrange during postnatal T cell development made up of clonotypic TCR-α and -β chains that are associated with the CD3 complex composed of invariant γ, δ, ε, ζ, and η chains. TCR-α and -β chains recognize peptide fragments of protein antigen physically bound in antigen-presenting cell MHC class I or II molecules, leading to signaling via the CD3 complex to mediate effector functions.

•   T follicular helper T cells (Tfh)—CD4 T cells in B cell follicle germinal centers that produce IL-4 and IL-21 and drive B cell development and affinity maturation in peripheral lymphoid tissues such as lymph node and spleen.

•   TH17 T cells—CD4 T cells that secrete IL-17, IL-22, and IL-26 and play roles in autoimmune inflammatory disorders as well as defend against bacterial and fungal pathogens.

•   T lymphocytes—thymus-derived lymphocytes that mediate adaptive cellular immune responses including T helper, T regulatory, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte effector cell functions.

•   Tolerance—B and T cell nonresponsiveness to antigens that results from encounter with foreign or self-antigens by B and T lymphocytes in the absence of expression of antigen-presenting cell co-stimulatory molecules. Tolerance to antigens may be induced and maintained by multiple mechanisms either centrally (in the thymus for T cells or bone marrow for B cells) or peripherally at sites throughout the peripheral immune system.


The human immune system has evolved over millions of years from both invertebrate and vertebrate organisms to develop sophisticated defense mechanisms to protect the host from microbes and their virulence factors. The normal immune system has three key properties: a highly diverse repertoire of antigen receptors that enables recognition of a nearly infinite range of pathogens; immune memory, to mount rapid recall immune responses; and immunologic tolerance, to avoid immune damage to normal self-tissues. From invertebrates, humans have inherited the innate immune system, an ancient defense system that uses germline-encoded proteins to recognize pathogens. Cells of the innate immune system, such as macrophages, dendritic cells, and NK lymphocytes, recognize PAMPs that are highly conserved among many microbes and use a diverse set of PRR molecules. Important components of the recognition of microbes by the innate immune system include recognition by germline-encoded host molecules, recognition of key microbe virulence factors but not recognition of self-molecules, and nonrecognition of benign foreign molecules or microbes. Upon contact with pathogens, macrophages and NK cells may kill pathogens directly or, in concert with dendritic cells, may activate a series of events that both slow the infection and recruit the more recently evolved arm of the human immune system, the adaptive immune system.

Adaptive immunity is found only in vertebrates and is based on the generation of antigen receptors on T and B lymphocytes by gene rearrangements, such that individual T or B cells express unique antigen receptors on their surface capable of specifically recognizing diverse antigens of the myriad infectious agents in the environment. Coupled with finely tuned specific recognition mechanisms that maintain tolerance (nonreactivity) to self-antigens, T and B lymphocytes bring both specificity and immune memory to vertebrate host defenses.

This chapter describes the cellular components, key molecules (Table 372e-1), and mechanisms that make up the innate and adaptive immune systems and describes how adaptive immunity is recruited to the defense of the host by innate immune responses. An appreciation of the cellular and molecular bases of innate and adaptive immune responses is critical to understanding the pathogenesis of inflammatory, autoimmune, infectious, and immunodeficiency diseases.

TABLE 372e-1





All multicellular organisms, including humans, have developed the use of a limited number of surface and intracellular germline-encoded molecules that recognize large groups of pathogens. Because of the myriad human pathogens, host molecules of the human innate immune system sense “danger signals” and either recognize PAMPs, the common molecular structures shared by many pathogens, or recognize host cell molecules produced in response to infection such as heat shock proteins and fragments of the extracellular matrix. PAMPs must be conserved structures vital to pathogen virulence and survival, such as bacterial endotoxin, so that pathogens cannot mutate molecules of PAMPs to evade human innate immune responses. PRRs are host proteins of the innate immune system that recognize PAMPs as host danger signal molecules (Tables 372e-2 and 372e-3). Thus, recognition of pathogen molecules by hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cell types leads to activation/production of the complement cascade, cytokines, and antimicrobial peptides as effector molecules. In addition, pathogen PAMPs as host danger signal molecules activate dendritic cells to mature and to express molecules on the dendritic cell surface that optimize antigen presentation to respond to foreign antigens.

TABLE 372e-2




Major PRR families of proteins include transmembrane proteins, such as the Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and C-type lectin receptors (CLRs), and cytoplasmic proteins, such as the retinoic acid–inducible gene (RIG)-1-like receptors (RLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs) (Table 372e-3). A major group of PRR collagenous glycoproteins with C-type lectin domains are termed collectins and include the serum protein mannose-binding lectin (MBL). MBL and other collectins, as well as two other protein families—the pentraxins (such as C-reactive protein and serum amyloid P) and macrophage scavenger receptors—all have the property of opsonizing (coating) bacteria for phagocytosis by macrophages and can also activate the complement cascade to lyse bacteria. Integrins are cell-surface adhesion molecules that affect attachment between cells and the extracellular matrix and mediate signal transduction that reflects the chemical composition of the cell environment. For example, integrins signal after cells bind bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and activate phagocytic cells to ingest pathogens.

TABLE 372e-3



There are multiple connections between the innate and adaptive immune systems; these include (1) a plasma protein, LPS-binding protein, that binds and transfers LPS to the macrophage LPS receptor, CD14; (2) a human family of proteins called Toll-like receptor proteins (TLRs), some of which are associated with CD14, bind LPS, and signal epithelial cells, dendritic cells, and macrophages to produce cytokines and upregulate cell-surface molecules that signal the initiation of adaptive immune responses (Fig. 372e-1, Tables 372e-3 and 372e-4), and (3) families of intracellular microbial sensors called NLRs and RLRs. Proteins in the Toll family can be expressed on macrophages, dendritic cells, and B cells as well as on a variety of nonhematopoietic cell types, including respiratory epithelial cells. Eleven TLRs have been identified in humans, and 13 TLRs have been identified in mice (Tables 372e-4 and 372e-5). Upon ligation, TLRs activate a series of intracellular events that lead to the killing of bacteria- and viral-infected cells as well as to the recruitment and ultimate activation of antigen-specific T and B lymphocytes (Fig. 372e-1). Importantly, signaling by massive amounts of LPS through TLR4 leads to the release of large amounts of cytokines that mediate LPS-induced shock. Mutations in TLR4 proteins in mice protect from LPS shock, and TLR mutations in humans protect from LPS-induced inflammatory diseases such as LPS-induced asthma (Fig. 372e-1).


FIGURE 372e-1   Overview of major TLR signaling pathways. All TLRs signal through MyD88, with the exception of TLR3. TLR4 and the TLR2 subfamily (TLR1, TLR2, TLR6) also engage TIRAP. TLR3 signals through TRIF. TRIF is also used in conjunction with TRAM in the TLR4-MyD88-independent pathway. Dashed arrows indicate translocation into the nucleus. dsRNA, double-strand RNA; IFN, interferon; IRF3, interferon regulatory factor 3; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinases; NF-κB, nuclear factor-κB; ssRNA, single-strand RNA; TLR, Toll-like receptor. (Adapted from D van Duin et al: Trends Immunol 27:49, 2006, with permission.)

TABLE 372e-4



TABLE 372e-5



Two other families of cytoplasmic PRRs are the NLRs and the RLRs. These families, unlike the TLRs, are composed primarily of soluble intracellular proteins that scan host cell cytoplasm for intracellular pathogens (Tables 372e-2 and 372e-3).

The intracellular microbial sensors, NLRs, after triggering, form large cytoplasmic complexes termed inflammasomes, which are aggregates of molecules including NOD-like receptor pyrin (NLRP) proteins that are members of the NLR family (Table 372e-3). Inflammasomes activate inflammatory caspases and IL-1β in the presence of nonbacterial danger signals (cell stress) and bacterial PAMPs. Mutations in inflammasome proteins can lead to chronic inflammation in a group of periodic febrile diseases called autoinflammatory syndromes (Table 372e-6).

TABLE 372e-6




Cells of the innate immune system and their roles in the first line of host defense are listed in Table 372e-5. Equally important as their roles in the mediation of innate immune responses are the roles that each cell type plays in recruiting T and B lymphocytes of the adaptive immune system to engage in specific pathogen responses.

Monocytes-Macrophages    Monocytes arise from precursor cells within bone marrow (Fig. 372e-2) and circulate with a half-life ranging from 1 to 3 days. Monocytes leave the peripheral circulation via capillaries and migration into a vast extravascular cellular pool. Tissue macrophages arise from monocytes that have migrated out of the circulation and by in situ proliferation of macrophage precursors in tissue. Common locations where tissue macrophages (and certain of their specialized forms) are found are lymph node, spleen, bone marrow, perivascular connective tissue, serous cavities such as the peritoneum, pleura, skin connective tissue, lung (alveolar macrophages), liver (Kupffer cells), bone (osteoclasts), central nervous system (microglia cells), and synovium (type A lining cells).


FIGURE 372e-2   Schematic model of intercellular interactions of adaptive immune system cells. In this figure, the arrows denote that cells develop from precursor cells or produce cytokines or antibodies; lines ending with bars indicate suppressive intercellular interactions. Stem cells differentiate into either T cells, antigen-presenting dendritic cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, granulocytes, or B cells. Foreign antigen is processed by dendritic cells, and peptide fragments of foreign antigen are presented to CD4+ and/or CD8+ T cells. CD8+ T cell activation leads to induction of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) or killer T cell generation, as well as induction of cytokine-producing CD8+ cytotoxic T cells. For antibody production against the same antigen, active antigen is bound to sIg within the B cell receptor complex and drives B cell maturation into plasma cells that secrete Ig. TH1 or TH2 CD4+ T cells producing interleukin (IL) 4, IL-5, or interferon (IFN) γ regulate the Ig class switching and determine the type of antibody produced. TH17 cells secrete IL-17, IL-22, IL-26, which contribute to host defense against extracellular bacteria and fungi, particularly at mucosal surfaces. CD4+, CD25+ T regulatory cells produce IL-10 and downregulate T and B cell responses once the microbe has been eliminated. GM-CSF, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; TNF, tumor necrosis factor.

In general, monocytes-macrophages are on the first line of defense associated with innate immunity and ingest and destroy microorganisms through the release of toxic products such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and nitric oxide (NO). Inflammatory mediators produced by macrophages attract additional effector cells such as neutrophils to the site of infection. Macrophage mediators include prostaglandins; leukotrienes; platelet activating factor; cytokines such as IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-12; and chemokines (Tables 372e-7 to 372e-9).

TABLE 372e-7






TABLE 372e-8



TABLE 372e-9



Although monocytes-macrophages were originally thought to be the major antigen-presenting cells (APCs) of the immune system, it is now clear that cell types called dendritic cells are the most potent and effective APCs in the body (see below). Monocytes-macrophages mediate innate immune effector functions such as destruction of antibody-coated bacteria, tumor cells, or even normal hematopoietic cells in certain types of autoimmune cytopenias. Monocytes-macrophages ingest bacteria or are infected by viruses, and in doing so, they frequently undergo programmed cell death or apoptosis. Macrophages that are infected by intracellular infectious agents are recognized by dendritic cells as infected and apoptotic cells and are phagocytosed by dendritic cells. In this manner, dendritic cells “cross-present” infectious agent antigens of macrophages to T cells. Activated macrophages can also mediate antigen-nonspecific lytic activity and eliminate cell types such as tumor cells in the absence of antibody. This activity is largely mediated by cytokines (i.e., TNF-α and IL-1). Monocytes-macrophages express lineage-specific molecules (e.g., the cell-surface LPS receptor, CD14) as well as surface receptors for a number of molecules, including the Fc region of IgG, activated complement components, and various cytokines (Table 372e-7).

Dendritic Cells    Human dendritic cells (DCs) contain several subsets, including myeloid DCs and plasmacytoid DCs. Myeloid DCs can differentiate into either macrophages-monocytes or tissue-specific DCs. In contrast to myeloid DCs, plasmacytoid DCs are inefficient APCs but are potent producers of type I interferon (IFN) (e.g., IFN-α) in response to viral infections. The maturation of DCs is regulated through cell-to-cell contact and soluble factors, and DCs attract immune effectors through secretion of chemokines. When DCs come in contact with bacterial products, viral proteins, or host proteins released as danger signals from distressed host cells (Figs. 372e-2 and 372e-3), infectious agent molecules bind to various TLRs and activate DCs to release cytokines and chemokines that drive cells of the innate immune system to become activated to respond to the invading organism, and recruit T and B cells of the adaptive immune system to respond. Plasmacytoid DCs produce antiviral IFN-α that activates NK cell killing of pathogen-infected cells; IFN-α also activates T cells to mature into antipathogen cytotoxic (killer) T cells. Following contact with pathogens, both plasmacytoid and myeloid DCs produce chemokines that attract helper and cytotoxic T cells, B cells, polymorphonuclear cells, and naïve and memory T cells as well as regulatory T cells to ultimately dampen the immune response once the pathogen is controlled. TLR engagement on DCs upregulates MHC class II, B7-1 (CD80), and B7-2 (CD86), which enhance DC-specific antigen presentation and induce cytokine production (Table 372e-7). Thus, DCs are important bridges between early (innate) and later (adaptive) immunity. DCs also modulate and determine the types of immune responses induced by pathogens via the TLRs expressed on DCs (TLR7–9 on plasmacytoid DCs, TLR4 on monocytoid DCs) and via the TLR adapter proteins that are induced to associate with TLRs (Fig. 372e-1, Table 372e-4). In addition, other PRRs, such as C-type lectins, NLRs, and mannose receptors, upon ligation by pathogen products, activate cells of the adaptive immune system and, like TLR stimulation, by a variety of factors, determine the type and quality of the adaptive immune response that is triggered (Table 372e-4).


FIGURE 372e-3   CD4+ helper T1 (TH1) cells and TH2 T cells secrete distinct but overlapping sets of cytokines. TH1 CD4+ cells are frequently activated in immune and inflammatory reactions against intracellular bacteria or viruses, whereas TH2 CD4+ cells are frequently activated for certain types of antibody production against parasites and extracellular encapsulated bacteria; they are also activated in allergic diseases. GM-CSF, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; IFN, interferon; IL, interleukin; TNF, tumor necrosis factor. (Adapted from S Romagnani: CD4 effector cells, in Inflammation: Basic Principles and Clinical Correlates, 3rd ed, J Gallin, R Snyderman [eds]. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999, p 177; with permission.)

Large Granular Lymphocytes/Natural Killer Cells    Large granular lymphocytes (LGLs) or NK cells account for ~5–15% of peripheral blood lymphocytes. NK cells are nonadherent, nonphagocytic cells with large azurophilic cytoplasmic granules. NK cells express surface receptors for the Fc portion of IgG (FcR) (CD16) and for NCAM-I (CD56), and many NK cells express T lineage markers, particularly CD8, and proliferate in response to IL-2. NK cells arise in both bone marrow and thymic microenvironments.

Functionally, NK cells share features with both monocytes-macrophages and neutrophils in that they mediate both ADCC and NK cell activity. ADCC is the binding of an opsonized (antibody-coated) target cell to an Fc receptor-bearing effector cell via the Fc region of antibody, resulting in lysis of the target by the effector cell. NK cell cytotoxicity is the nonimmune (i.e., effector cell never having had previous contact with the target), MHC-unrestricted, non-antibody-mediated killing of target cells, which are usually malignant cell types, transplanted foreign cells, or virus-infected cells. Thus, NK cell cytotoxicity may play an important role in immune surveillance and destruction of malignant and virus-infected host cells. NK cell hyporesponsiveness is also observed in patients with Chédiak-Higashi syndrome, an autosomal recessive disease associated with fusion of cytoplasmic granules and defective degranulation of neutrophil lysosomes.

NK cells have a variety of surface receptors that have inhibitory or activating functions and belong to two structural families. These families include the immunoglobulin superfamily and the lectin-like type II transmembrane proteins. NK immunoglobulin superfamily receptors include the killer cell immunoglobulin-like activating or inhibitory receptors (KIRs), many of which have been shown to have HLA class I ligands. The KIRs are made up proteins with either two (KIR2D) or three (KIR3D) extracellular immunoglobulin domains (D). Moreover, their nomenclature designates their function as either inhibitory KIRs with a long (L) cytoplasmic tail and immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM) (KIRDL) or activating KIRs with a short (S) cytoplasmic tail (KIRDS). NK cell inactivation by KIRs is a central mechanism to prevent damage to normal host cells. Genetic studies have demonstrated the association of KIRs with viral infection outcome and autoimmune disease (Table 372e-10).

TABLE 372e-10



In addition to the KIRs, a second set of immunoglobulin superfamily receptors includes the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs), which include NKp46, NKp30, and NKp44. These receptors help to mediate NK cell activation against target cells. The ligands to which NCRs bind on target cells have been recently recognized to be comprised of molecules of pathogens such as influenza, vaccinia, and malaria as well as host molecules expressed on tumor cells.

NK cell signaling is, therefore, a highly coordinated series of inhibiting and activating signals that prevent NK cells from responding to uninfected, nonmalignant self-cells; however, they are activated to attack malignant and virally infected cells (Fig. 372e-4). Recent evidence suggests that NK cells, although not possessing rearranging immune recognition genes, may be able to mediate recall for NK cell responses to viruses and for immune responses such as contact hypersensitivity.


FIGURE 372e-4   Encounters between NK cells: potential targets and possible outcomes. The amount of activating and inhibitory receptors on the NK cells and the amount of ligands on the target cell, as well as the qualitative differences in the signals transduced, determine the extent of the NK response. A. When target cells have no HLA class I or activating ligands, NK cells cannot kill target cells. B. When target cells bear self-HLA, NK cells cannot kill targets. C. When target cells are pathogen infected and have downregulated HLA and express activating ligands, NK cells kill target cells. D. When NK cells encounter targets with both self-HLA and activating receptors, then the level of target killing is determined by the balance of inhibitory and activating signals to the NK cell. HLA, human leukocyte antigen; NK, natural killer. (Adapted from L Lanier: Annu Rev Immunol 23:225, 2005; reproduced with permission from Annual Reviews Inc. Copyright 2011 by Annual Reviews Inc.)

Some NK cells express CD3 and invariant TCR-α chains and are termed NK T cells. TCRs of NK T cells recognize lipid molecules of intracellular bacteria when presented in the context of CD1d molecules on APCs. Upon activation, NK T cells secrete effector cytokines such as IL-4 and IFN-γ. This mode of recognition of intracellular bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes and Mycobacterium tuberculosis by NK T cells leads to induction of activation of DCs and is thought to be an important innate defense mechanism against these organisms.

The receptors for the Fc portion of IgG (FcγRs) are present on NK cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and mast cells and mediate interactions of IgG with antibody-coated target cells, such as virally infected cells. Antibody-NK interaction via antibody Fc and NK cell FcR links the adaptive and innate immune systems and regulates the mediation of IgG antibody effector functions such as ADCC. There are both activation and inhibitory FcγRs. Activation FcRs, such as FcγRI (CD64), FcγRII (CD32), and FcγRII (CD64), are characterized by the presence of an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activating motif (ITAM) sequence, whereas inhibitory FcRs, such as FcγRIIb, contain an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM) sequence. There is evidence that dysregulation in IgG-FcγR interactions plays a role in arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Neutrophils, Eosinophils, and Basophils    Granulocytes are present in nearly all forms of inflammation and are amplifiers and effectors of innate immune responses (Figs. 372e-2 and 372e-3). Unchecked accumulation and activation of granulocytes can lead to host tissue damage, as seen in neutrophil- and eosinophil-mediated systemic necrotizing vasculitis. Granulocytes are derived from stem cells in bone marrow. Each type of granulocyte (neutrophil, eosinophil, or basophil) is derived from a different subclass of progenitor cell that is stimulated to proliferate by colony-stimulating factors (Table 372e-7). During terminal maturation of granulocytes, class-specific nuclear morphology and cytoplasmic granules appear that allow for histologic identification of granulocyte type.

Neutrophils express Fc receptor IIIa for IgG (CD16) as well as receptors for activated complement components (C3b or CD35). Upon interaction of neutrophils with antibody-coated (opsonized) bacteria or immune complexes, azurophilic granules (containing myeloperoxidase, lysozyme, elastase, and other enzymes) and specific granules (containing lactoferrin, lysozyme, collagenase, and other enzymes) are released, and microbicidal superoxide radicals (O2) are generated at the neutrophil surface. The generation of superoxide leads to inflammation by direct injury to tissue and by alteration of macromolecules such as collagen and DNA.

Eosinophils express Fc receptor II for IgG (CD32) and are potent cytotoxic effector cells for various parasitic organisms. In Nippostrongylus brasiliensis helminth infection, eosinophils are important cytotoxic effector cells for removal of these parasites. Key to regulation of eosinophil cytotoxicity to N. brasiliensis worms are antigen-specific T helper cells that produce IL-4, thus providing an example of regulation of innate immune responses by adaptive immunity antigen-specific T cells. Intracytoplasmic contents of eosinophils, such as major basic protein, eosinophil cationic protein, and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin, are capable of directly damaging tissues and may be responsible in part for the organ system dysfunction in the hypereosinophilic syndromes (Chap. 80). Because the eosinophil granule contains anti-inflammatory types of enzymes (histaminase, arylsulfatase, phospholipase D), eosinophils may homeostatically downregulate or terminate ongoing inflammatory responses.

Basophils and tissue mast cells are potent reservoirs of cytokines such as IL-4 and can respond to bacteria and viruses with antipathogen cytokine production through multiple TLRs expressed on their surface. Mast cells and basophils can also mediate immunity through the binding of antipathogen antibodies. This is a particularly important host defense mechanism against parasitic diseases. Basophils express high-affinity surface receptors for IgE (FcεRII) (CD23) and, upon cross-linking of basophil-bound IgE by antigen, can release histamine, eosinophil chemotactic factor of anaphylaxis, and neutral protease—all mediators of allergic immediate (anaphylaxis) hypersensitivity responses (Table 372e-11). In addition, basophils express surface receptors for activated complement components (C3a, C5a), through which mediator release can be directly affected. Thus, basophils, like most cells of the immune system, can be activated in the service of host defense against pathogens, or they can be activated for mediation release and cause pathogenic responses in allergic and inflammatory diseases. For further discussion of tissue mast cells, see Chap. 376.

TABLE 372e-11



The Complement System    The complement system, an important soluble component of the innate immune system, is a series of plasma enzymes, regulatory proteins, and proteins that are activated in a cascading fashion, resulting in cell lysis. There are four pathways of the complement system: the classic activation pathway activated by antigen/antibody immune complexes, the mannose-binding lectin (MBL) (a serum collectin; Table 372e-3) activation pathway activated by microbes with terminal mannose groups, the alternative activation pathway activated by microbes or tumor cells, and the terminal pathway that is common to the first three pathways and leads to the membrane attack complex that lyses cells (Fig. 372e-5). The series of enzymes of the complement system are serine proteases.


FIGURE 372e-5   The four pathways and the effector mechanisms of the complement system. Dashed arrows indicate the functions of pathway components. (After BJ Morley, MJ Walport: The Complement Facts Books. London, Academic Press, 2000, Chap. 2; with permission. Copyright Academic Press, London, 2000.)

Activation of the classic complement pathway via immune complex binding to C1q links the innate and adaptive immune systems via specific antibody in the immune complex. The alternative complement activation pathway is antibody-independent and is activated by binding of C3 directly to pathogens and “altered self” such as tumor cells. In the renal glomerular inflammatory disease IgA nephropathy, IgA activates the alternative complement pathway and causes glomerular damage and decreased renal function. Activation of the classic complement pathway via C1, C4, and C2 and activation of the alternative pathway via factor D, C3, and factor B both lead to cleavage and activation of C3. C3 activation fragments, when bound to target surfaces such as bacteria and other foreign antigens, are critical for opsonization (coating by antibody and complement) in preparation for phagocytosis. The MBL pathway substitutes MBL-associated serine proteases (MASPs) 1 and 2 for C1q, C1r, and C1s to activate C4. The MBL activation pathway is activated by mannose on the surface of bacteria and viruses.

The three pathways of complement activation all converge on the final common terminal pathway. C3 cleavage by each pathway results in activation of C5, C6, C7, C8, and C9, resulting in the membrane attack complex that physically inserts into the membranes of target cells or bacteria and lyses them.

Thus, complement activation is a critical component of innate immunity for responding to microbial infection. The functional consequences of complement activation by the three initiating pathways and the terminal pathway are shown in Fig. 372e-5. In general the cleavage products of complement components facilitate microbe or damaged cell clearance (C1q, C4, C3), promote activation and enhancement of inflammation (anaphylatoxins, C3a, C5a), and promote microbe or opsonized cell lysis (membrane attack complex).


Cytokines are soluble proteins produced by a wide variety of cell types (Tables 372e-7 to 372e-9). They are critical for both normal innate and adaptive immune responses, and their expression may be perturbed in most immune, inflammatory, and infectious disease states.

Cytokines are involved in the regulation of the growth, development, and activation of immune system cells and in the mediation of the inflammatory response. In general, cytokines are characterized by considerable redundancy; different cytokines have similar functions. In addition, many cytokines are pleiotropic in that they are capable of acting on many different cell types. This pleiotropism results from the expression on multiple cell types of receptors for the same cytokine (see below), leading to the formation of “cytokine networks.” The action of cytokines may be (1) autocrine when the target cell is the same cell that secretes the cytokine, (2) paracrine when the target cell is nearby, and (3) endocrine when the cytokine is secreted into the circulation and acts distal to the source.

Cytokines have been named based on presumed targets or based on presumed functions. Those cytokines that are thought to primarily target leukocytes have been named interleukins (IL-1, -2, -3, etc.). Many cytokines that were originally described as having a certain function have retained those names (e.g., granulocyte colony-stimulating factor [G-CSF]). Cytokines belong in general to three major structural families: the hematopoietin family; the TNF, IL-1, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and transforming growth factor (TGF) β families; and the CXC and C-C chemokine families (Table 372e-9). Chemokines are cytokines that regulate cell movement and trafficking; they act through G protein-coupled receptors and have a distinctive three-dimensional structure. IL-8 is the only chemokine that early on was named an IL (Table 372e-7).

In general, cytokines exert their effects by influencing gene activation that results in cellular activation, growth, differentiation, functional cell-surface molecule expression, and cellular effector function. In this regard, cytokines can have dramatic effects on the regulation of immune responses and the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. Indeed, T cells have been categorized on the basis of the pattern of cytokines that they secrete, which results in either humoral immune response (TH2) or cell-mediated immune response (TH1). A third type of T helper cell is the TH17 cell that contributes to host defense against extracellular bacteria and fungi, particularly at mucosal sites (Fig. 372e-2).

Cytokine receptors can be grouped into five general families based on similarities in their extracellular amino acid sequences and conserved structural domains. The immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily represents a large number of cell-surface and secreted proteins. The IL-1 receptors (type 1, type 2) are examples of cytokine receptors with extracellular Ig domains.

The hallmark of the hematopoietic growth factor (type 1) receptor family is that the extracellular regions of each receptor contain two conserved motifs. One motif, located at the N terminus, is rich in cysteine residues. The other motif is located at the C terminus proximal to the transmembrane region and comprises five amino acid residues, tryptophan-serine-X-tryptophan-serine (WSXWS). This family can be grouped on the basis of the number of receptor subunits they have and on the utilization of shared subunits. A number of cytokine receptors, i.e., IL-6, IL-11, IL-12, and leukemia inhibitory factor, are paired with gp130. There is also a common 150-kDa subunit shared by IL-3, IL-5, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) receptors. The gamma chain (γc) of the IL-2 receptor is common to the IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15 receptors. Thus, the specific cytokine receptor is responsible for ligand-specific binding, whereas the subunits such as gp130, the 150-kDa subunit, and γc are important in signal transduction. The γc gene is on the × chromosome, and mutations in the γc protein result in the X-linked form of severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (X-SCID) (Chap. 374).

The members of the interferon (type II) receptor family include the receptors for IFN-γ and -β, which share a similar 210-amino-acid binding domain with conserved cysteine pairs at both the amino and carboxy termini. The members of the TNF (type III) receptor family share a common binding domain composed of repeated cysteine-rich regions. Members of this family include the p55 and p75 receptors for TNF (TNF-R1 and TNF-R2, respectively); CD40 antigen, which is an important B cell-surface marker involved in immunoglobulin isotype switching; fas/Apo-1, whose triggering induces apoptosis; CD27 and CD30, which are found on activated T cells and B cells; and nerve growth factor receptor.

The common motif for the seven transmembrane helix family was originally found in receptors linked to GTP-binding proteins. This family includes receptors for chemokines (Table 372e-8), β-adrenergic receptors, and retinal rhodopsin. It is important to note that two members of the chemokine receptor family, CXC chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) and β chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5), have been found to serve as the two major co-receptors for binding and entry of HIV into CD4-expressing host cells (Chap. 226).

Significant advances have been made in defining the signaling pathways through which cytokines exert their intracellular effects. The Janus family of protein tyrosine kinases (JAK) is a critical element involved in signaling via the hematopoietin receptors. Four JAK kinases, JAK1, JAK2, JAK3, and Tyk2, preferentially bind different cytokine receptor subunits. Cytokine binding to its receptor brings the cytokine receptor subunits into apposition and allows a pair of JAKs to transphosphorylate and activate one another. The JAKs then phosphorylate the receptor on the tyrosine residues and allow signaling molecules to bind to the receptor, whereby the signaling molecules become phosphorylated. Signaling molecules bind the receptor because they have domains (SH2, or src homology 2 domains) that can bind phosphorylated tyrosine residues. There are a number of these important signaling molecules that bind the receptor, such as the adapter molecule SHC, which can couple the receptor to the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. In addition, an important class of substrate of the JAKs is the signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) family of transcription factors. STATs have SH2 domains that enable them to bind to phosphorylated receptors, where they are then phosphorylated by the JAKs. It appears that different STATs have specificity for different receptor subunits. The STATs then dissociate from the receptor and translocate to the nucleus, bind to DNA motifs that they recognize, and regulate gene expression. The STATs preferentially bind DNA motifs that are slightly different from one another and thereby control transcription of specific genes. The importance of this pathway is particularly relevant to lymphoid development. Mutations of JAK3 itself also result in a disorder identical to X-SCID; however, because JAK3 is found on chromosome 19 and not on the × chromosome, JAK3 deficiency occurs in boys and girls (Chap. 374).


Adaptive immunity is characterized by antigen-specific responses to a foreign antigen or pathogen. A key feature of adaptive immunity is that following the initial contact with antigen (immunologic priming), subsequent antigen exposure leads to more rapid and vigorous immune responses (immunologic memory). The adaptive immune system consists of dual limbs of cellular and humoral immunity. The principal effectors of cellular immunity are T lymphocytes, whereas the principal effectors of humoral immunity are B lymphocytes. Both B and T lymphocytes derive from a common stem cell (Fig. 372e-6).


FIGURE 372e-6   Development stages of T and B cells. Elements of the developing T and B cell receptor for antigen are shown schematically. The classification into the various stages of B cell development is primarily defined by rearrangement of the immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy (H) and light (L) chain genes and by the absence or presence of specific surface markers. The classification of stages of T cell development is primarily defined by cell-surface marker protein expression (sCD3, surface CD3 expression; cCD3, cytoplasmic CD3 expression; TCR, T cell receptor). (Adapted from CA Janeway et al [eds]: Immunobiology. The Immune Systemic Health and Disease, 4th ed. New York, Garland, 1999; with permission.)

The proportion and distribution of immunocompetent cells in various tissues reflect cell traffic, homing patterns, and functional capabilities. Bone marrow is the major site of maturation of B cells, monocytes-macrophages, DCs, and granulocytes and contains pluripotent stem cells that, under the influence of various colony-stimulating factors, are capable of giving rise to all hematopoietic cell types. T cell precursors also arise from hematopoietic stem cells and home to the thymus for maturation. Mature T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, monocytes, and DCs enter the circulation and home to peripheral lymphoid organs (lymph nodes, spleen) and mucosal surface-associated lymphoid tissue (gut, genitourinary, and respiratory tracts) as well as the skin and mucous membranes and await activation by foreign antigen.

T Cells    The pool of effector T cells is established in the thymus early in life and is maintained throughout life both by new T cell production in the thymus and by antigen-driven expansion of virgin peripheral T cells into “memory” T cells that reside in peripheral lymphoid organs. The thymus exports ~2% of the total number of thymocytes per day throughout life, with the total number of daily thymic emigrants decreasing by ~3% per year during the first four decades of life.

Mature T lymphocytes constitute 70–80% of normal peripheral blood lymphocytes (only 2% of the total-body lymphocytes are contained in peripheral blood), 90% of thoracic duct lymphocytes, 30–40% of lymph node cells, and 20–30% of spleen lymphoid cells. In lymph nodes, T cells occupy deep paracortical areas around B cell germinal centers, and in the spleen, they are located in periarteriolar areas of white pulp (Chap. 79). T cells are the primary effectors of cell-mediated immunity, with subsets of T cells maturing into CD8+ cytotoxic T cells capable of lysis of virus-infected or foreign cells (short-lived effector T cells) and CD4+ T cells capable of T cell help for CD8+ T cell and B cell development. Two populations of long-lived memory T cells are triggered by infections: effector memory and central memory T cells. Effector memory T cells reside in nonlymphoid organs and respond rapidly to repeated pathogenic infections with cytokine production and cytotoxic functions to kill virus-infected cells. Central memory T cells home to lymphoid organs where they replenish long- and short-lived and effector memory T cells as needed.

In general, CD4+ T cells are the primary regulatory cells of T and B lymphocyte and monocyte function by the production of cytokines and by direct cell contact (Fig. 372e-2). In addition, T cells regulate erythroid cell maturation in bone marrow and, through cell contact (CD40 ligand), have an important role in activation of B cells and induction of Ig isotype switching. Considerable evidence now exists that colonization of the gut by commensal bacteria (the gut microbiome) is responsible for expansion of the peripheral CD4+ T cell compartment in normal children and adults.

Human T cells express cell-surface proteins that mark stages of intrathymic T cell maturation or identify specific functional subpopulations of mature T cells. Many of these molecules mediate or participate in important T cell functions (Table 372e-1, Fig. 372e-6).

The earliest identifiable T cell precursors in bone marrow are CD34+ pro-T cells (i.e., cells in which TCR genes are neither rearranged nor expressed). In the thymus, CD34+ T cell precursors begin cytoplasmic (c) synthesis of components of the CD3 complex of TCR-associated molecules (Fig. 372e-6). Within T cell precursors, TCR for antigen gene rearrangement yields two T cell lineages, expressing either TCR-αβ chains or TCR-γδ chains. T cells expressing the TCR-αβ chains constitute the majority of peripheral T cells in blood, lymph node, and spleen and terminally differentiate into either CD4+ or CD8+ cells. Cells expressing TCR-γδ chains circulate as a minor population in blood; their functions, although not fully understood, have been postulated to be those of immune surveillance at epithelial surfaces and cellular defenses against mycobacterial organisms and other intracellular bacteria through recognition of bacterial lipids.

In the thymus, the recognition of self-peptides on thymic epithelial cells, thymic macrophages, and DCs plays an important role in shaping the T cell repertoire to recognize foreign antigen (positive selection) and in eliminating highly autoreactive T cells (negative selection). As immature cortical thymocytes begin to express surface TCR for antigen, autoreactive thymocytes are destroyed (negative selection), thymocytes with TCRs capable of interacting with foreign antigen peptides in the context of self-MHC antigens are activated and develop to maturity (positive selection), and thymocytes with TCRs that are incapable of binding to self-MHC antigens die of attrition (no selection). Mature thymocytes that are positively selected are either CD4+ helper T cells or MHC class II–restricted cytotoxic (killer) T cells, or they are CD8+ T cells destined to become MHC class I–restricted cytotoxic T cells. MHC class I– or class II–restricted means that T cells recognize antigen peptide fragments only when they are presented in the antigen-recognition site of a class I or class II MHC molecule, respectively (Chap. 373e).

After thymocyte maturation and selection, CD4 and CD8 thymocytes leave the thymus and migrate to the peripheral immune system. The thymus continues to be a contributor to the peripheral immune system well into adult life, both normally and when the peripheral T cell pool is damaged, such as occurs in AIDS and cancer chemotherapy.

MOLECULAR BASIS OF T CELL RECOGNITION OF ANTIGEN   The TCR for antigen is a complex of molecules consisting of an antigen-binding heterodimer of either αβ or γδ chains noncovalently linked with five CD3 subunits (γ, δ, ε, ζ, and η) (Fig. 372e-7). The CD3 ζ chains are either disulfide-linked homodimers (CD3-ζ2) or disulfide-linked heterodimers composed of one ζ chain and one η chain. TCR-αβ or TCR-γδ molecules must be associated with CD3 molecules to be inserted into the T cell-surface membrane, TCRα being paired with TCR-β and TCR-γ being paired with TCR-δ. Molecules of the CD3 complex mediate transduction of T cell activation signals via TCRs, whereas TCR-α and -β or -γ and -δ molecules combine to form the TCR antigen-binding site.


FIGURE 372e-7   Signaling through the T cell receptor. Activation signals are mediated via immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation (ITAM) sequences in LAT and CD3 chains (blue bars) that bind to enzymes and transduce activation signals to the nucleus via the indicated intracellular activation pathways. Ligation of the T cell receptor (TCR) by MHC complexed with antigen results in sequential activation of LCK and γ-chain-associated protein kinase of 70 kDa (ZAP-70). ZAP-70 phosphorylates several downstream targets, including LAT (linker for activation of T cells) and SLP76 (SCR homology 2 [SH2] domain-containing leukocyte protein of 76 kDa). SLP76 is recruited to membrane-bound LAT through its constitutive interaction with GADS (GRB2-related adaptor protein). Together, SLP76 and LAT nucleate a multimolecular signaling complex, which induces a host of downstream responses, including calcium flux, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation, integrin activation, and cytoskeletal reorganization. APC, antigen-presenting cell. (Adapted from GA Koretzky et al: Nat Rev Immunol 6:67, 2006; with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Copyright 2006.)

The α, β, γ, and δ TCR for antigen molecules have amino acid sequence homology and structural similarities to immunoglobulin heavy and light chains and are members of the immunoglobulin gene superfamily of molecules. The genes encoding TCR molecules are encoded as clusters of gene segments that rearrange during the course of T cell maturation. This creates an efficient and compact mechanism for housing the diversity requirements of antigen receptor molecules. The TCR-α chain is on chromosome 14 and consists of a series of V (variable), J (joining), and C (constant) regions. The TCR-β chain is on chromosome 7 and consists of multiple V, D (diversity), J, and C TCR-β loci. The TCR-γ chain is on chromosome 7, and the TCR-δ chain is in the middle of the TCR-α locus on chromosome 14. Thus, molecules of the TCR for antigen have constant (framework) and variable regions, and the gene segments encoding the α, β, γ, and δ chains of these molecules are recombined and selected in the thymus, culminating in synthesis of the completed molecule. In both T and B cell precursors (see below), DNA rearrangements of antigen receptor genes involve the same enzymes, recombinase activating gene (RAG) 1 and RAG2, both DNA-dependent protein kinases.

TCR diversity is created by the different V, D, and J segments that are possible for each receptor chain by the many permutations of V, D, and J segment combinations, by “N-region diversification” due to the addition of nucleotides at the junction of rearranged gene segments, and by the pairing of individual chains to form a TCR dimer. As T cells mature in the thymus, the repertoire of antigen-reactive T cells is modified by selection processes that eliminate many autoreactive T cells, enhance the proliferation of cells that function appropriately with self-MHC molecules and antigen, and allow T cells with nonproductive TCR rearrangements to die.

TCR-αβ cells do not recognize native protein or carbohydrate antigens. Instead, T cells recognize only short (~9–13 amino acids) peptide fragments derived from protein antigens taken up or produced in APCs. Foreign antigens may be taken up by endocytosis into acidified intracellular vesicles or by phagocytosis and degraded into small peptides that associate with MHC class II molecules (exogenous antigen-presentation pathway). Other foreign antigens arise endogenously in the cytosol (such as from replicating viruses) and are broken down into small peptides that associate with MHC class I molecules (endogenous antigen-presenting pathway). Thus, APCs proteolytically degrade foreign proteins and display peptide fragments embedded in the MHC class I or II antigen-recognition site on the MHC molecule surface, where foreign peptide fragments are available to bind to TCR-αβ or TCR-γδ chains of reactive T cells. CD4 molecules act as adhesives and, by direct binding to MHC class II (DR, DQ, or DP) molecules, stabilize the interaction of TCR with peptide antigen (Fig. 372e-7). Similarly, CD8 molecules also act as adhesives to stabilize the TCR-antigen interaction by direct CD8 molecule binding to MHC class I (A, B, or C) molecules.

Antigens that arise in the cytosol and are processed via the endogenous antigen-presentation pathway are cleaved into small peptides by a complex of proteases called the proteasome. From the proteasome, antigen peptide fragments are transported from the cytosol into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum by a heterodimeric complex termed transporters associated with antigen processing, or TAP proteins. There, MHC class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane physically associate with processed cytosolic peptides. Following peptide association with class I molecules, peptide-class I complexes are exported to the Golgi apparatus, and then to the cell surface, for recognition by CD8+ T cells.

Antigens taken up from the extracellular space via endocytosis into intracellular acidified vesicles are degraded by vesicle proteases into peptide fragments. Intracellular vesicles containing MHC class II molecules fuse with peptide-containing vesicles, thus allowing peptide fragments to physically bind to MHC class II molecules. Peptide-MHC class II complexes are then transported to the cell surface for recognition by CD4+ T cells (Chap. 373e).

Whereas it is generally agreed that the TCR-αβ receptor recognizes peptide antigens in the context of MHC class I or class II molecules, lipids in the cell wall of intracellular bacteria such as M. tuberculosis can also be presented to a wide variety of T cells, including subsets of TCR-γδ T cells, and a subset of CD8+ TCR-αβ T cells. Importantly, bacterial lipid antigens are not presented in the context of MHC class I or II molecules, but rather are presented in the context of MHC-related CD1 molecules. Some γδ T cells that recognize lipid antigens via CD1 molecules have very restricted TCR usage, do not need antigen priming to respond to bacterial lipids, and may actually be a form of innate rather than acquired immunity to intracellular bacteria.

Just as foreign antigens are degraded and their peptide fragments presented in the context of MHC class I or class II molecules on APCs, endogenous self-proteins also are degraded, and self-peptide fragments are presented to T cells in the context of MHC class I or class II molecules on APCs. In peripheral lymphoid organs, there are T cells that are capable of recognizing self-protein fragments but normally are anergic or tolerant, i.e., nonresponsive to self-antigenic stimulation, due to lack of self-antigen upregulating APC co-stimulatory molecules such as B7-1 (CD80) and B7-2 (CD86) (see below).

Once engagement of mature T cell TCR by foreign peptide occurs in the context of self-MHC class I or class II molecules, binding of non-antigen-specific adhesion ligand pairs such as CD54-CD11/CD18 and CD58-CD2 stabilizes MHC peptide-TCR binding, and the expression of these adhesion molecules is upregulated (Fig. 372e-7). Once antigen ligation of the TCR occurs, the T cell membrane is partitioned into lipid membrane microdomains, or lipid rafts, that coalesce the key signaling molecules TCR/CD3 complex, CD28, CD2, LAT (linker for activation of T cells), intracellular activated (dephosphorylated) src family protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs), and the key CD3ζ-associated protein-70 (ZAP-70) PTK (Fig. 372e-7). Importantly, during T cell activation, the CD45 molecule, with protein tyrosine phosphatase activity, is partitioned away from the TCR complex to allow activating phosphorylation events to occur. The coalescence of signaling molecules of activated T lymphocytes in microdomains has suggested that T cell-APC interactions can be considered immunologic synapses, analogous in function to neuronal synapses.

After TCR-MHC binding is stabilized, activation signals are transmitted through the cell to the nucleus and lead to the expression of gene products important in mediating the wide diversity of T cell functions such as the secretion of IL-2. The TCR does not have intrinsic signaling activity but is linked to a variety of signaling pathways via immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs) expressed on the various CD3 chains that bind to proteins that mediate signal transduction. Each of the pathways results in the activation of particular transcription factors that control the expression of cytokine and cytokine receptor genes. Thus, antigen-MHC binding to the TCR induces the activation of the src family of PTKs, fyn and lck (lck is associated with CD4 or CD8 co-stimulatory molecules); phosphorylation of CD3ζ chain; activation of the related tyrosine kinases ZAP-70 and syk; and downstream activation of the calcium-dependent calcineurin pathway, the ras pathway, and the protein kinase C pathway. Each of these pathways leads to activation of specific families of transcription factors (including NF-AT, fos and jun, and rel/NF-κB) that form heteromultimers capable of inducing expression of IL-2, IL-2 receptor, IL-4, TNF-α, and other T cell mediators.

In addition to the signals delivered to the T cell from the TCR complex and CD4 and CD8, molecules on the T cell, such as CD28 and inducible co-stimulator (ICOS), and molecules on DCs, such as B7-1 (CD80) and B7-2 (CD86), also deliver important co-stimulatory signals that upregulate T cell cytokine production and are essential for T cell activation. If signaling through CD28 or ICOS does not occur, or if CD28 is blocked, the T cell becomes anergic rather than activated (see “Immune Tolerance and Autoimmunity” below). CTLA-4 (CD152) is similar to CD28 in its ability to bind CD80 and CD86. Unlike CD28, CTLA-4 transmits an inhibitory signal to T cells, acting as an off switch.

T CELL EXHAUSTION IN VIRAL INFECTIONS AND CANCER   In chronic viral infections such as HIV-1, hepatitis C virus, and hepatitis B virus and in chronic malignancies, the persistence of antigen disrupts memory T cell function, resulting in defects in memory T cell responses. This has been defined as T cell exhaustion and is associated with T cell programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) (CD279) expression. Exhausted T cells have compromised proliferation and lose the ability to produce effector molecules, like IL-2, TNF-α, and IFN-γ. PD-1 downregulates T cell responses and is associated with T cell exhaustion and disease progression. For this reason, inhibition of T cell PD-1 activity to enhance effector T cell function is being explored as a target for immunotherapy in both viral infections and certain malignancies.

T CELL SUPERANTIGENS   Conventional antigens bind to MHC class I or II molecules in the groove of the αβ heterodimer and bind to T cells via the V regions of the TCR-α and -β chains. In contrast, superantigens bind directly to the lateral portion of the TCR-β chain and MHC class II β chain and stimulate T cells based solely on the Vβ gene segment used independent of the D, J, and Vα sequences present. Superantigens are protein molecules capable of activating up to 20% of the peripheral T cell pool, whereas conventional antigens activate <1 in 10,000 T cells. T cell superantigens include staphylococcal enterotoxins and other bacterial products. Superantigen stimulation of human peripheral T cells occurs in the clinical setting of staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome, leading to massive overproduction of T cell cytokines that leads to hypotension and shock (Chap. 172).

B CELLS   Mature B cells constitute 10–15% of human peripheral blood lymphocytes, 20–30% of lymph node cells, 50% of splenic lymphocytes, and ~10% of bone marrow lymphocytes. B cells express on their surface intramembrane immunoglobulin (Ig) molecules that function as B cell receptors (BCRs) for antigen in a complex of Ig-associated α and β signaling molecules with properties similar to those described in T cells (Fig. 372e-8). Unlike T cells, which recognize only processed peptide fragments of conventional antigens embedded in the notches of MHC class I and class II antigens of APCs, B cells are capable of recognizing and proliferating to whole unprocessed native antigens via antigen binding to B cell–surface Ig (sIg) receptors. B cells also express surface receptors for the Fc region of IgG molecules (CD32) as well as receptors for activated complement components (C3d or CD21, C3b or CD35). The primary function of B cells is to produce antibodies. B cells also serve as APCs and are highly efficient at antigen processing. Their antigen-presenting function is enhanced by a variety of cytokines. Mature B cells are derived from bone marrow precursor cells that arise continuously throughout life (Fig. 372e-6).


FIGURE 372e-8   B cell receptor (BCR) activation results in the sequential activation of protein tyrosine kinases, which results in the formation of a signaling complex and activation of downstream pathways as shown. Whereas SLP76 is recruited to the membrane through GADS and LAT, the mechanism of SLP65 recruitment is unclear. Studies have indicated two mechanisms: (a) direct binding by the SH2 domain of SLP65 to immunoglobulin (Ig) of the BCR complex or (b) membrane recruitment through a leucine zipper in the amino terminus of SLP65 and an unknown binding partner. ADAP, adhesion- and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein; AP1, activator protein 1; BTK, Bruton’s tyrosine kinase; DAG, diacylglycerol; GRB2, growth factor receptor-bound protein 2; HPK1, hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1; InsP3, inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate; ITK, interleukin-2-inducible T cell kinase; NCK, noncatalytic region of tyrosine kinase; NF-B, nuclear factor B; PKC, protein kinase C; PLC, phospholipase C; PtdIns(4,5)P2, phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate; RASGRP, RAS guanyl-releasing protein; SOS, son of sevenless homologue; SYK, spleen tyrosine kinase. (Adapted from GA Koretzky et al: Nat Rev Immunol 6:67, 2006; with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Copyright 2006.)

B lymphocyte development can be separated into antigen-independent and antigen-dependent phases. Antigen-independent B cell development occurs in primary lymphoid organs and includes all stages of B cell maturation up to the sIg+ mature B cell. Antigen-dependent B cell maturation is driven by the interaction of antigen with the mature B cell sIg, leading to memory B cell induction, Ig class switching, and plasma cell formation. Antigen-dependent stages of B cell maturation occur in secondary lymphoid organs, including lymph node, spleen, and gut Peyer’s patches. In contrast to the T cell repertoire that is generated intrathymically before contact with foreign antigen, the repertoire of B cells expressing diverse antigen-reactive sites is modified by further alteration of Ig genes after stimulation by antigen—a process called somatic hypermutation—that occurs in lymph node germinal centers.

During B cell development, diversity of the antigen-binding variable region of Ig is generated by an ordered set of Ig gene rearrangements that are similar to the rearrangements undergone by TCR α, β, γ, and δ genes. For the heavy chain, there is first a rearrangement of D segments to J segments, followed by a second rearrangement between a V gene segment and the newly formed D-J sequence; the C segment is aligned to the V-D-J complex to yield a functional Ig heavy chain gene (V-D-J-C). During later stages, a functional κ or γ light chain gene is generated by rearrangement of a V segment to a J segment, ultimately yielding an intact Ig molecule composed of heavy and light chains.

The process of Ig gene rearrangement is regulated and results in a single antibody specificity produced by each B cell, with each Ig molecule comprising one type of heavy chain and one type of light chain. Although each B cell contains two copies of Ig light and heavy chain genes, only one gene of each type is productively rearranged and expressed in each B cell, a process termed allelic exclusion.

There are ~300 Vκ genes and 5 Jκ genes, resulting in the pairing of Vκ and Jκ genes to create >1500 different kappa light chain combinations. There are ~70 Vλ genes and 4Jλ genes for >280 different lambda light chain combinations. The number of distinct light chains that can be generated is increased by somatic mutations within the V and J genes, thus creating large numbers of possible specificities from a limited amount of germline genetic information. As noted above, in heavy chain Ig gene rearrangement, the VH domain is created by the joining of three types of germline genes called VH, DH, and JH, thus allowing for even greater diversity in the variable region of heavy chains than of light chains.

The most immature B cell precursors (early pro-B cells) lack cytoplasmic Ig (cIg) and sIg (Fig. 372e-6). The large pre-B cell is marked by the acquisition of the surface pre-BCR composed of μ heavy (H) chains and a pre-B light chain, termed ψLC. ψLC is a surrogate light chain receptor encoded by the nonrearranged V pre-B and the γ5 light chain locus (the pre-BCR). Pro- and pre-B cells are driven to proliferate and mature by signals from bone marrow stroma—in particular, IL-7. Light chain rearrangement occurs in the small pre-B cell stage such that the full BCR is expressed at the immature B cell stage. Immature B cells have rearranged Ig light chain genes and express sIgM. As immature B cells develop into mature B cells, sIgD is expressed as well as sIgM. At this point, B lineage development in bone marrow is complete, and B cells exit into the peripheral circulation and migrate to secondary lymphoid organs to encounter specific antigens.

Random rearrangements of Ig genes occasionally generate self-reactive antibodies, and mechanisms must be in place to correct these mistakes. One such mechanism is BCR editing, whereby autoreactive BCRs are mutated to not react with self-antigens. If receptor editing is unsuccessful in eliminating autoreactive B cells, then autoreactive B cells undergo negative selection in the bone marrow through induction of apoptosis after BCR engagement of self-antigen.

After leaving the bone marrow, B cells populate peripheral B cell sites, such as lymph node and spleen, and await contact with foreign antigens that react with each B cell’s clonotypic receptor. Antigen-driven B cell activation occurs through the BCR, and a process known as somatic hypermutation takes place whereby point mutations in rearranged H- and L-genes give rise to mutant sIg molecules, some of which bind antigen better than the original sIg molecules. Somatic hypermutation, therefore, is a process whereby memory B cells in peripheral lymph organs have the best binding, or the highest-affinity antibodies. This overall process of generating the best antibodies is called affinity maturation of antibody.

Lymphocytes that synthesize IgG, IgA, and IgE are derived from sIgM+, sIgD+ mature B cells. Ig class switching occurs in lymph node and other peripheral lymphoid tissue germinal centers. CD40 on B cells and CD40 ligand on T cells constitute a critical co-stimulatory receptor-ligand pair of immune-stimulatory molecules. Pairs of CD40+ B cells and CD40 ligand+ T cells bind and drive B cell Ig class switching via T cell-produced cytokines such as IL-4 and TGF-β. IL-1, -2, -4, -5, and -6 synergize to drive mature B cells to proliferate and differentiate into Ig-secreting cells.

Humoral Mediators of Adaptive Immunity: Immunoglobulins    Immunoglobulins are the products of differentiated B cells and mediate the humoral arm of the immune response. The primary functions of antibodies are to bind specifically to antigen and bring about the inactivation or removal of the offending toxin, microbe, parasite, or other foreign substance from the body. The structural basis of Ig molecule function and Ig gene organization has provided insight into the role of antibodies in normal protective immunity, pathologic immune-mediated damage by immune complexes, and autoantibody formation against host determinants.

All immunoglobulins have the basic structure of two heavy and two light chains (Fig. 372e-8). Immunoglobulin isotype (i.e., G, M, A, D, E) is determined by the type of Ig heavy chain present. IgG and IgA isotypes can be divided further into subclasses (G1, G2, G3, G4, and A1, A2) based on specific antigenic determinants on Ig heavy chains. The characteristics of human immunoglobulins are outlined in Table 372e-12. The four chains are covalently linked by disulfide bonds. Each chain is made up of a V region and C regions (also called domains), themselves made up of units of ~110 amino acids. Light chains have one variable (VL) and one constant (CL) unit; heavy chains have one variable unit (VH) and three or four constant (CH) units, depending on isotype. As the name suggests, the constant, or C, regions of Ig molecules are made up of homologous sequences and share the same primary structure as all other Ig chains of the same isotype and subclass. Constant regions are involved in biologic functions of Ig molecules. The CH2 domain of IgG and the CH4 units of IgM are involved with the binding of the C1q portion of C1 during complement activation. The CH region at the carboxy-terminal end of the IgG molecule, the Fc region, binds to surface Fc receptors (CD16, CD32, CD64) of macrophages, DCs, NK cells, B cells, neutrophils, and eosinophils. The Fc of IgA binds to FcαR (CD89), and the Fc of IgE binds to FcεR (CD23).

TABLE 372e-12



Variable regions (VL and VH) constitute the antibody-binding (Fab) region of the molecule. Within the VL and VH regions are hypervariable regions (extreme sequence variability) that constitute the antigen-binding site unique to each Ig molecule. The idiotype is defined as the specific region of the Fab portion of the Ig molecule to which antigen binds. Antibodies against the idiotype portion of an antibody molecule are called anti-idiotype antibodies. The formation of such antibodies in vivo during a normal B cell antibody response may generate a negative (or “off”) signal to B cells to terminate antibody production.

IgG constitutes ~75–85% of total serum immunoglobulin. The four IgG subclasses are numbered in order of their level in serum, IgG1 being found in greatest amounts and IgG4 the least. IgG subclasses have clinical relevance in their varying ability to bind macrophage and neutrophil Fc receptors and to activate complement (Table 372e-12). Moreover, selective deficiencies of certain IgG subclasses give rise to clinical syndromes in which the patient is inordinately susceptible to bacterial infections. IgG antibodies are frequently the predominant antibody made after rechallenge of the host with antigen (secondary antibody response).

IgM antibodies normally circulate as a 950-kDa pentamer with 160-kDa bivalent monomers joined by a molecule called the J chain, a 15-kDa nonimmunoglobulin molecule that also effects polymerization of IgA molecules. IgM is the first immunoglobulin to appear in the immune response (primary antibody response) and is the initial type of antibody made by neonates. Membrane IgM in the monomeric form also functions as a major antigen receptor on the surface of mature B cells (Table 372e-12). IgM is an important component of immune complexes in autoimmune diseases. For example, IgM antibodies against IgG molecules (rheumatoid factors) are present in high titers in rheumatoid arthritis, other collagen diseases, and some infectious diseases (subacute bacterial endocarditis).

IgA constitutes only 7–15% of total serum immunoglobulin but is the predominant class of immunoglobulin in secretions. IgA in secretions (tears, saliva, nasal secretions, gastrointestinal tract fluid, and human milk) is in the form of secretory IgA (sIgA), a polymer consisting of two IgA monomers, a joining molecule, again called the J chain, and a glycoprotein called the secretory protein

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