Human Gut Dendritic Cells Drive Aberrant Gut-specific T-cell Responses in Ulcerative Colitis, Characterized by Increased IL-4 Production and Loss of IL-22 and IFNγ

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The pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease is incompletely understood but results from a dysregulated intestinal immune response to the luminal microbiota. CD4+ T cells mediate tissue injury in the inflammatory bowel disease–associated immune response. Dendritic cells (DC) generate primary T-cell responses and mediate intestinal immune tolerance to prevent overt inflammation in response to the gut microbiota. However, most information regarding function of intestinal DC has come from mouse models, and information in humans is scarce. We show here that intestinal DC subsets are skewed in ulcerative colitis (UC) in humans, with a loss of CD103+ lymph-node homing DC; this intestinal DC subset preferentially generates regulatory T cells in mice. We show infiltrates of DC negative for myeloid marker CD11c, with enhanced expression of Toll-like receptors for bacterial recognition. After mixed leukocyte reaction, DC from the inflamed UC colon had an enhanced ability to generate gut-specific CD4+ T cells with enhanced production of interleukin-4 but a loss of interferon γ and interleukin-22 production. Conditioning intestinal DC with probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei Shirota in UC partially restored their normal function indicated by reduced Toll-like receptor 2/4 expression and restoration of their ability to imprint homing molecules on T cells and to generate interleukin-22 production by stimulated T cells. This study suggests that T-cell dysfunction in UC is driven by DC. T-cell responses can be manipulated indirectly through effects of bacterial conditioning on gut DC with implications for immunomodulatory effects of the commensal microbiota in vivo. Manipulation of DC to allow generation of DC-specific therapy may be beneficial in inflammatory bowel disease.

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