Neutrophils were originally described as short lived, terminally differentiated phagocytes that contribute only to the innate immune response. Recent evidence of neutrophil cytokine production and expression of numerous cell surface proteins has suggested that neutrophils are likely to influence adaptive responses and may satisfy the criteria of antigen presenting cells. Under certain inflammatory conditions human neutrophils express major histocompatibilty complex (MHC) Class II and the costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86. We have employed a murine T cell hybridoma with a transgenic T cell receptor specific for ovalbumin peptide 323-339 (OVA323-339), and a green fluorescent reporter of T cell receptor ligation, to directly investigate neutrophil-T cell interactions. These cells provide an ideal model system, allowing precise identification of antigen specificity and a clear readout of T cell activation. Additionally, whilst murine neutrophils have previously been shown to stimulate MHC Class I-dependent CD8+ T cell activation, CD4+ T cells stimulation via MHC Class II-expressing neutrophils has not been investigated. We addressed this by isolating murine neutrophils, loading with OVA323-339 and co-culturing with T cells specific for the OVA323-339/MHC Class II complex, and this resulted in T cell activation, as determined by expression of the green-fluorescent protein reporter. Antigen-pulsed neutrophils were also able to prime naïve OVA-specific CD4+ T cells in a contact-dependent manner, as shown by proliferation and cytokine production. Activation of lymphocytes was not due to contaminating macrophages. These studies demonstrate that murine neutrophils present MHC Class II-restricted peptides and induce T cell proliferation, confirming findings in human neutrophils, and demonstrate a novel pro inflammatory effect of murine neutrophils.
- antigen presentation