Staphylococcus aureus–derived lipoteichoic acid induces temporary T-cell paralysis independent of Toll-like receptor 2

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Abstract

Background:

The interplay between microbes and surface organs, such as the skin, shapes a complex immune system with several checks and balances. The first-line defense is mediated by innate immune pathways leading to inflammation. In the second phase specific T cells invade the infected organ, amplifying inflammation and defense. Consecutively, termination of inflammation is crucial to avoid chronic inflammation triggered by microbes, such as in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Objective:

We aimed to elucidate how theStaphylococcus aureus–derived cell-wall component lipoteichoic acid (LTA) governs the second phase of immune responses when high concentrations of LTA access T cells directly through disrupted skin.

Methods:

We analyzed the direct exposure of T cells to LTAin vitro. Forin vivoanalyses, we used fluorescein isothiocyanate contact hypersensitivity and ovalbumin-induced dermatitis as models for TH2-mediated cutaneous inflammation.

Results:

We observed that LTA potently suppressed T-lymphocyte activation in a Toll-like receptor 2–independent manner. LTA-exposed T cells did not proliferate and did not produce cytokines. Importantly, these T cells remained completely viable and were responsive to consecutive activation signals on subsequent removal of LTA. Thus LTA exposure resulted in temporary functional T-cell paralysis.In vivoexperiments revealed that T-cell cytokine production and cutaneous recall responses were significantly suppressed by LTA.

Conclusion:

We identified a new mechanism through which bacterial compounds directly but temporarily modulate adaptive immune responses.

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