Infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii leads to the induction of a Th1-type response dominated by IFN-γ production and control of this pathogen. Cells of the innate immune system are essential in initiating this response both through the production of IL-12 as well as the presentation of parasite-derived Ags to MHC-restricted T cells. Although dendritic cells (DCs) have been implicated in these events, the contribution of individual DC populations remains unclear. Therefore, multiparameter flow cytometry was used to identify and characterize subsets of murine DCs during acute toxoplasmosis. This approach confirmed that infection leads to the expansion and activation of conventional DC (cDC) subsets. Unexpectedly, however, this analysis further revealed that plasmacytoid DCs are also expanded and that these cells up-regulate MHC class II and costimulatory molecules associated with their acquired ability to prime naive CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, T. gondii-activated plasmacytoid DCs produce high levels of IL-12 and both plasmacytoid DC maturation and cytokine production are dependent on TLR11. Together these studies suggest that pDCs are a prominent DC subset involved in the initial stages of T. gondii infection, presenting parasite Ags and producing cytokines that are important for controlling infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy