Primary Human Dendritic Cells and Whole-Blood Based Assays to Evaluate Immuno-Modulatory Properties of Heat-Killed Commensal Bacteria

Vaccines (Basel). 2021 Mar 5;9(3):225. doi: 10.3390/vaccines9030225.


There is mounting evidence that the microbiome plays a critical role in training and maturation of the host immune system. Pre-clinical and clinical studies have shown that microbiome perturbation is correlated with sub-optimal host responses to vaccines and cancer immunotherapy. As such, identifying species of commensal bacteria capable of modulating immunological outcomes is of considerable interest. Currently, the lack of reliable primary immune cell-based assays capable of differentiating immuno-modulatory properties of various commensal bacteria is a major limitation. Here, we demonstrate that primary human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDC) are capable of stratifying different strains of live and heat-killed commensal bacteria in an in vitro culture system. Specifically, heat-killed bacterial strains were able to differentially modulate co-stimulation/maturation markers CD80, CD83, and HLA-DR, as well as cytokine/chemokine signatures, such as IL-1b, MIP-1a, and TNFa in primary human MoDC. We further validated our observations using the TruCulture® (Myriad RBM, Inc., Austin, TX, USA) whole-blood ex vivo culture system. Using this ex vivo system allowed us to measure immune-altering effects of commensal bacteria in primary human whole-blood. As such, we report that both these primary in vitro and ex vivo systems are robust and enable identification, stratification, and differentiation of various commensal bacteria as potential modulators of host immunity.

Keywords: commensal bacteria; dendritic cells; host–microbiome interactions; immune modulation; innate immunity; microbiome.