Down-regulation of Notch signaling pathway reverses the Th1/Th2 imbalance in tuberculosis patients

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Th1/Th2 imbalance to Th2 is of significance in the peripheral immune responses in Tuberculosis (TB) development. However, the mechanisms for Th1/Th2 imbalance are still not well determined. Notch signaling pathway is involved in the peripheral T cell activation and effector cell differentiation. However, whether it affects Th1/Th2 imbalance in TB patients is still not known. Here, we used γ-secretase inhibitor (DAPT) to treat the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy people or individuals with latent or active TB infection in vitro, respectively. Then, the Th1/Th2 ratios were determined by flow cytometry, and cytokines of IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10 in the culture supernatant were measured by CBA method. The Notch signal pathway associated proteins Hes1, GATA3 and T-bet were quantitated by real-time PCR or immunoblotting. Our results showed that DAPT effectively inhibited the protein level of Hes1. In TB patients, the Th2 ratio increased in the PBMCs, alone with the high expression of GATA3 and IL-4, resulting in the high ratios of Th2/Th1 and GATA3/T-bet in TB patients. However, Th2 cells ratio decreased after blocking the Notch signaling pathway by DAPT and the Th2/Th1 ratio in TB patients were DAPT dose-dependent, accompanied by the decrease of IL-4 and GATA3. But, its influence on Th1 ratio and Th1 related T-bet and IFN-γ levels were not significant. In conclusion, our results suggest that blocking Notch signaling by DAPT could inhibit Th2 responses and restore Th1/Th2 imbalance in TB patients.

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