Apoptotic Cells Ameliorate Chronic Intestinal Inflammation by Enhancing Regulatory B-cell Function

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Apoptosis is a programmed physiological death of unwanted cells, and handling of apoptotic cells (ACs) is thought to have profound effects on immune-mediated disorders. However, there is scant information regarding the role of ACs in intestinal inflammation, in which immune homeostasis is a major concern. To investigate this, we injected ACs into a severe combined immunodeficiency adoptive transfer model of chronic colitis in the presence and absence of cotransferred whole B or regulatory B cell (Breg)-depleted B cells. We also injected syngeneic ACs into AKR/N mice as a control and into milk fat globule–epidermal growth factor 8 knockout mice deficient of phagocytic function. Chronic colitis severity was significantly reduced in the AC as opposed to the phosphate-buffered saline group with cotransferred whole B cells. The AC-mediated effect was lost in the absence of B cells or presence of Breg-depleted B cells. In addition, ACs induced splenic B cells to secrete significantly increased levels of interleukin 10 in AKR/N mice but not milk fat globule–epidermal growth factor 8 knockout mice. Apoptotic leukocytes were induced by reactive oxygen species during granulocyte/monocyte apheresis therapy in rabbits and H2O2-induced apoptotic neutrophils ameliorated mice colitis. Our results indicate that ACs are protective only in the presence of B cells and phagocytosis of ACs induced interleukin 10 producing Bregs. Thus, the ameliorative effect seen in this study might have been exerted by AC-induced Bregs through increased production of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin 10, whereas an AC-mediated effect may contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect of granulocyte/monocyte apheresis as a novel therapeutic mechanism for inflammatory bowel disease.

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