Activation of the STING adaptor attenuates experimental autoimmune encephalitis

Henrique Lemos, Lei Huang, Phillip R. Chandler, Eslam Mohamed, Guilherme R. Souza, Lingqian Li, Gabriela Pacholczyk, Glen N. Barber, Yoshihiro Hayakawa, David H. Munn, Andrew L. Mellor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Cytosolic DNA sensing activates the stimulator of IFN genes (STING) adaptor to induce IFN type I (IFN-αβ) production. Constitutive DNA sensing to induce sustained STING activation incites tolerance breakdown, leading to autoimmunity. In this study, we show that systemic treatments with DNA nanoparticles (DNPs) induced potent immune regulatory responses via STING signaling that suppressed experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) when administered to mice after immunization with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), at EAE onset, or at peak disease severity. DNP treatments attenuated infiltration of effector T cells into the CNS and suppressed innate and adaptive immune responses to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein immunization in spleen. Therapeutic responses were not observed in mice treated with cargo DNA or cationic polymers alone, indicating that DNP uptake and cargo DNA sensing by cells with regulatory functions was essential for therapeutic responses to manifest. Intact STING and IFN-αβ receptor genes, but not IFN-γ receptor genes, were essential for therapeutic responses to DNPs to manifest. Treatments with cyclic diguanylate monophosphate to activate STING also delayed EAE onset and reduced disease severity. Therapeutic responses to DNPs were critically dependent on IDO enzyme activity in hematopoietic cells. Thus, DNPs and cyclic diguanylate monophosphate attenuate EAE by inducing dominant T cell regulatory responses via the STING/IFN-αβ/IDO pathway that suppress CNS-specific autoimmunity. These findings reveal dichotomous roles for the STING/IFN-αβ pathway in either stimulating or suppressing autoimmunity and identify STING-activating reagents as a novel class of immune modulatory drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5571-5578
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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