GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology



First Thesis Advisor

Robert W. Finberg, M.D.


Endocytosis, Phagocytosis, Immunity, Innate, Drug Delivery Systems


In this dissertation, the roles of endocytosis and phagocytosis pathways in a variety of clinically relevant scenarios were examined. These scenarios include antibody-mediated internalization of cell surface proteins, titanium wear-particle uptake in failed joint replacements, and polymeric microparticle uptake and immune responses for drug delivery or adjuvant use.

The use of antibodies specific for cell surface proteins has become a popular method to deliver therapeutics to target cells. As such, it is imperative to fully understand the ability of antibodies to mediate internalization and endosomal trafficking of the surface protein that it recognizes, so that drug delivery can be optimized. By comparing the internalization and endosomal localization of two different antibody-bound proteins, the transferrin receptor (TfR) and rabies G, we have found that there is a specific antibody-mediated internalization pathway that occurs when an antibody binds to a cell surface protein. Interestingly, the internalization pathway induced by antibody binding is different than that seen with recycling receptor internalization after ligand binding. This may have broad implications for the future development of antibody-based therapeutics.

Joint replacement failure is a major clinical problem. Studies have indicated that a large amount of metal and polyethylene wear debris is found in the synovial membrane and tissue surrounding failed replacements. Through examination of the immune response following uptake of titanium particles, our results suggest that titanium wear-particle induced inflammation and subsequent joint replacement failure may be due to activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, leading to increased IL-1ß secretion and IL-1 associated signaling. These findings introduce IL-1 as a target for potential therapeutics for patients exhibiting significant inflammation.

Polymeric microparticles have been widely used in a variety of therapeutic applications, including drug delivery and vaccine adjuvants. It is essential to understand the ability of such particles to either activate or inhibit an immune response following uptake. Through comparison of particles with varying surface morphology, we have determined that particles with regions of high surface curvature (budding) are more immunogenic than particles with low surface curvature (spherical). Budding particles were more rapidly phagocytosed and induced higher levels of the inflammasome-associated cytokine, IL-1ß, when exposed to mouse macrophages. Additionally, budding particles induced a more rapid neutrophil response in vivo, when compared to spherical particles. These findings have broad implications for the development of future targeting vehicles for delivery of vaccines, drugs, proteins, and siRNA therapeutics.



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