PLoS ONE (2013-01-01)

Nucleic acid scavenging polymers inhibit extracellular DNA-mediated innate immune activation without inhibiting anti-viral responses.

  • Eda K Holl,
  • Kara L Shumansky,
  • George Pitoc,
  • Elizabeth Ramsburg,
  • Bruce A Sullenger

DOI
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069413
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 7
p. e69413

Abstract

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Toll-like receptor (TLR) family members, 3, 7 and 9 are key components in initiation and progression of autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These TLRs are often referred to as nucleic acid-sensing TLRs based on their ability to recognize DNAs or RNAs produced by pathogens or damaged cells. During autoimmune disease progression these receptors recognize self nucleic acids as well as self nucleic acid-containing complexes and contribute to inflammatory cytokine production and subsequent enhancement of serum autoantibody levels. We have recently discovered that nucleic-acid scavenging polymers (NASPs) can neutralize the proinflammatory effects of nucleic acids. Here, we begin to explore what effects such NASPs have on normal immune function. We show that such NASPs can inhibit TLR activation without affecting nucleic acid-independent T cell activation. Moreover, we observe that stimulation of immune cells by encapsulated nucleic acids, such as those found in viral particles, is unaffected by NASPs. Thus NASPs only limit the activation of the immune system by accessible extra-cellular nucleic acid and do not engender non-specific immune suppression. These important findings suggest that NASPs represent a new approach toward anti-inflammatory drug development as these agents can potentially be utilized to block overt autoimmune disorders and inflammation while allowing normal immune responses to occur.