The adjuvant-like activity of staphylococcal enterotoxin B in a murine asthma model is independent of IL-1R signaling

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Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) is a superantigen known to be a modulator of chronic airway inflammation in mice and humans, yet little is known about the mechanisms that regulate its interaction with the innate immune system. We investigated this mechanism in a murine model of allergic airway inflammation induced by OVA (ovalbumin) in the presence of SEB.


Superantigen-induced allergic inflammation was studied in IL-1R knockout (KO) mice exposed to OVA+SEB. Multicolor flow cytometry was used to analyze the inflammatory cell profile in airways and lymph nodes. Production of IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13 in lymph nodes was assessed by Luminex technology.


In wild-type mice, endonasal instillation of OVA+SEB induced a pulmonary inflammation, characterized by an increase in the number of eosinophils, T cells, and dendritic cells and in the production of Th2 cytokines and OVA-specific IgE. In IL-1R KO mice exposed to OVA+SEB, attraction of CD4+ cells and production of Th2 cytokines were reduced. However, knocking out IL-1R did not affect any of the features of allergic airway inflammation, such as bronchial eosinophilia, OVA-specific IgE production and goblet cell metaplasia.


We provide new insights into the mechanisms of airways allergy development in the presence of bacterial superantigen. The asthma features induced by OVA+SEB, such as bronchial eosinophilia, goblet cell proliferation, production of OVA-specific IgE and increase in inflammatory dendritic cells, are IL-1R independent. Yet, IL-1R signaling is crucial for CD4 cell accumulation and Th2 cytokine production.

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