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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 949845, 10 pages
Research Article

Murine Aortic Smooth Muscle Cells Acquire, Though Fail to Present Exogenous Protein Antigens on Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Molecules

1Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, 80131 Naples, Italy
2Centre for Immunobiology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, 120 University Place, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK
3Novartis Vaccines, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy

Received 28 March 2014; Accepted 11 June 2014; Published 20 July 2014

Academic Editor: Grant Drummond

Copyright © 2014 Marcella Maddaluno et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the present study aortic murine smooth muscle cell (SMC) antigen presentation capacity was evaluated using the Eα-GFP/Y-Ae system to visualize antigen uptake through a GFP tag and tracking of Eα peptide/MHCII presentation using the Y-Ae Ab. Stimulation with IFN-γ (100 ng/mL) for 72 h caused a significant increase in the percentage of MHC class II positive SMCs, compared with unstimulated cells. Treatment with Eα-GFP (100 μg/mL) for 48 h induced a significant increase in the percentage of GFP positive SMCs while it did not affect the percentage of Y-Ae positive cells, being indicative of antigen uptake without its presentation in the context of MHC class II. After IFN-γ-stimulation, ovalbumin- (OVA, 1 mg/mL) or OVA323–339 peptide-(0.5 μg/mL) treated SMCs failed to induce OT-II CD4+ T cell activation/proliferation; this was also accompanied by a lack of expression of key costimulatory molecules (OX40L, CD40, CD70, and CD86) on SMCs. Finally, OVA-treated SMCs failed to induce DO11.10-GFP hybridoma activation, a process independent of costimulation. Our results demonstrate that while murine primary aortic SMCs express MHC class II and can acquire exogenous antigens, they fail to activate T cells through a failure in antigen presentation and a lack of costimulatory molecule expression.