Immunoregulatory potential of exopolysaccharide from Lactobacillus rhamnosus KL37. Effects on the production of inflammatory mediators by mouse macrophages

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The ability to produce exopolysaccharides (EPS) is widespread among lactobacilli including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, the commonly used probiotic bacteria. Exopolysaccharides are a major component of the bacterial biofilm with a well-documented impact on adherence of bacteria to host cells. However, their immunoregulatory properties are unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the immunostimulatory potential of EPS derived from L. rhamnosus KL37. We investigated the effect of EPS on the production of inflammatory mediators by mouse peritoneal macrophages and compared it with the effect of Lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Exopolysaccharides, at concentrations higher than those of LPS, stimulated production of both pro-inflammatory (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-12) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines. Interestingly, analysis of the balance of TNF-α/IL-10 production showed a potential pro-inflammatory effect of EPS. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that exposure of macrophages to LPS induced a state of hyporesponsiveness, as indicated by reduced production of TNF-α after restimulation with either LPS or EPS (‘cross-tolerance’). By contrast, EPS could make cells tolerant only to subsequent stimulation by the same stimulus. We also examined the relationship between TNF-α production and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) by EPS and LPS. Pretreatment of macrophages with specific inhibitors of p38 and ERK MAPKs reduced TNF-α production induced by both stimuli to the same extent. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that EPS can effectively stimulate production of inflammatory mediators by macrophages in vitro. However, to predict whether EPS could be clinically useful as an immunomodulatory agent, further in vivo studies with highly purified EPS are necessary.

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