Yeast zymosan, a stimulus for TLR2 and dectin-1, induces regulatory antigen-presenting cells and immunological tolerance

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Emerging evidence suggests critical roles for APCs in suppressing immune responses. Here, we show that zymosan, a stimulus for TLR2 and dectin-1, regulates cytokine secretion in DCs and macrophages to induce immunological tolerance. First, zymosan induces DCs to secrete abundant IL-10 but little IL-6 and IL-12(p70). Induction of IL-10 is dependent on TLR2- and dectin-1–mediated activation of ERK MAPK via a mechanism independent of the activation protein 1 (AP-1) transcription factor c-Fos. Such DCs stimulate antigen-specific CD4+ T cells poorly due to IL-10 and the lack of IL-6. Second, zymosan induces F4-80+ macrophages in the splenic red pulp to secrete TGF-β. Consistent with these effects on APCs, injection of zymosan plus OVA into mice results in OVA-specific T cells that secrete little or no Th1 or Th2 cytokines, but secrete robust levels of IL-10, and are unresponsive to challenge with OVA plus adjuvant. Finally, coinjection of zymosan with OVA plus LPS suppresses the response to OVA via a mechanism dependent on IL-10, TGF-β, and lack of IL-6. Together, our data demonstrate that zymosan stimulates IL-10+IL-12(p70)IL-6low regulatory DCs and TGF-β+ macrophages to induce immunological tolerance. These data suggest several targets for pharmacological modulation of immune responses in various clinical settings.

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