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  • Integrative lymph node-mimicking models created with biomaterials and computational tools to study the immune system. Materials today. Bio Shou, Y., Johnson, S. C., Quek, Y. J., Li, X., Tay, A. 2022; 14: 100269


    The lymph node (LN) is a vital organ of the lymphatic and immune system that enables timely detection, response, and clearance of harmful substances from the body. Each LN comprises of distinct substructures, which host a plethora of immune cell types working in tandem to coordinate complex innate and adaptive immune responses. An improved understanding of LN biology could facilitate treatment in LN-associated pathologies and immunotherapeutic interventions, yet at present, animal models, which often have poor physiological relevance, are the most popular experimental platforms. Emerging biomaterial engineering offers powerful alternatives, with the potential to circumvent limitations of animal models, for in-depth characterization and engineering of the lymphatic and adaptive immune system. In addition, mathematical and computational approaches, particularly in the current age of big data research, are reliable tools to verify and complement biomaterial works. In this review, we first discuss the importance of lymph node in immunity protection followed by recent advances using biomaterials to create in vitro/vivo LN-mimicking models to recreate the lymphoid tissue microstructure and microenvironment, as well as to describe the related immuno-functionality for biological investigation. We also explore the great potential of mathematical and computational models to serve as in silico supports. Furthermore, we suggest how both in vitro/vivo and in silico approaches can be integrated to strengthen basic patho-biological research, translational drug screening and clinical personalized therapies. We hope that this review will promote synergistic collaborations to accelerate progress of LN-mimicking systems to enhance understanding of immuno-complexity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.mtbio.2022.100269

    View details for PubMedID 35514433

  • Lymph node swelling combined with temporary effector T cell retention aids T cell response in a model of adaptive immunity. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface Johnson, S. C., Frattolin, J., Edgar, L. T., Jafarnejad, M., Moore, J. E. 2021; 18 (185): 20210464


    Swelling of lymph nodes (LNs) is commonly observed during the adaptive immune response, yet the impact on T cell (TC) trafficking and subsequent immune response is not well known. To better understand the effect of macro-scale alterations, we developed an agent-based model of the LN paracortex, describing the TC proliferative response to antigen-presenting dendritic cells alongside inflammation-driven and swelling-induced changes in TC recruitment and egress, while also incorporating regulation of the expression of egress-modulating TC receptor sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1. Analysis of the effector TC response under varying swelling conditions showed that swelling consistently aided TC activation. However, subsequent effector CD8+ TC production was reduced in scenarios where swelling occurred too early in the TC proliferative phase or when TC cognate frequency was low due to increased opportunity for TC exit. Temporarily extending retention of newly differentiated effector TCs, mediated by sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1 expression, mitigated any negative effects of swelling by allowing facilitation of activation to outweigh increased access to exit areas. These results suggest that targeting temporary effector TC retention and egress associated with swelling offers new ways to modulate effector TC responses in, for example, immuno-suppressed patients and to optimize of vaccine design.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rsif.2021.0464

    View details for PubMedID 34847790

  • Inflammatory state of lymphatic vessels and miRNA profiles associated with relapse in ovarian cancer patients PLOS ONE Johnson, S. C., Chakraborty, S., Drosou, A., Cunnea, P., Tzovaras, D., Nixon, K., Zawieja, D. C., Muthuchamy, M., Fotopoulou, C., Moore, J. E. 2020; 15 (7): e0230092


    Lymphogenic spread is associated with poor prognosis in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), yet little is known regarding roles of non-peri-tumoural lymphatic vessels (LVs) outside the tumour microenvironment that may impact relapse. The aim of this feasibility study was to assess whether inflammatory status of the LVs and/or changes in the miRNA profile of the LVs have potential prognostic and predictive value for overall outcome and risk of relapse. Samples of macroscopically normal human lymph LVs (n = 10) were isolated from the external iliac vessels draining the pelvic region of patients undergoing debulking surgery. This was followed by quantification of the inflammatory state (low, medium and high) and presence of cancer-infiltration of each LV using immunohistochemistry. LV miRNA expression profiling was also performed, and analysed in the context of high versus low inflammation, and cancer-infiltrated versus non-cancer-infiltrated. Results were correlated with clinical outcome data including relapse with an average follow-up time of 13.3 months. The presence of a high degree of inflammation correlated significantly with patient relapse (p = 0.033). Cancer-infiltrated LVs showed a moderate but non-significant association with relapse (p = 0.07). Differential miRNA profiles were identified in cancer-infiltrated LVs and those with high versus low inflammation. In particular, several members of the let-7 family were consistently down-regulated in highly inflamed LVs (>1.8-fold, p<0.05) compared to the less inflamed ones. Down-regulation of the let-7 family appears to be associated with inflammation, but whether inflammation contributes to or is an effect of cancer-infiltration requires further investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0230092

    View details for Web of Science ID 000556674500032

    View details for PubMedID 32716937

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7384632