Caspase recruitment domain 9, microbiota, and tryptophan metabolism: dangerous liaisons in inflammatory bowel diseases

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Purpose of review

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) develop as a result of a combination of genetic predisposition, dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, and environmental influences. Here, we describe an example of how caspase recruitment domain 9 (CARD9), one of the numerous IBD susceptibility genes, participate to colitis susceptibility by shaping gut microbiota to produce tryptophan metabolites.

Recent findings

Recent study showed that CARD9−/− mice are more susceptible to colitis as a result of impaired interleukin 22 signaling pathway. Furthermore, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligands from tryptophan metabolism by the gut microbiota participate to intestinal homeostasis by inducing production of interleukin 22 by intestinal immune cells. These data suggest an interaction between CARD9 and the ability of gut microbiota to produce AhR ligands.


The microbiota from CARD9−/− mice fails to metabolize tryptophan leading to defective AhR activation which contributes to the susceptibility of mice to colitis by decreased interleukin 22 production. These effects were abrogated in the presence of AhR agonist. Reduced production of AhR ligands is also observed in the microbiota from individuals with IBD, particularly in those with CARD9 risk alleles associated with IBD. Correcting impaired microbiota functions, such as ability to produce AhR ligands, is an attractive strategy in IBD.

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