VIP balances innate and adaptive immune responses induced by specific stimulation of TLR2 and TLR4

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Crohn′s disease (CD) is a chronic intestinal inflammatory pathology, which develops as a result of innate immune signals, such as the activation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and adaptive immune signals, including Th1 cytokine release. We have recently demonstrated in TNBS-induced colitis, a murine model of CD, that VIP plays a homeostatic role, by reducing TNBS-induced TLR2 and TLR4 expression to control levels. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate for the first time, the physiological relevance of VIP specific control of innate and adaptive immune responses through TLR2 and TLR4 ligands. In addition, we investigated the effect of VIP on regulatory activity of T regulatory (Treg) cells in the TNBS-colitis model. First, we found that VIP downregulated the inflammatory response elicited in mesenteric lymph node cell cultures by treatment with the TLR2 ligand Pam3Cys, or the TLR4 ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS), reducing the production of the chemokine CXCL1. Also, treatment with VIP impaired the induction of Th1 responses by decreasing p70 interleukin (IL)-12 and interferon gamma (IFN-Γ) levels after TLR2/TLR4 stimulation in culture. Besides, VIP treatment restored in vivo the numbers of TLR2 and TLR4 positive CD4+CD25+ T lymphocytes, augmented by TNBS administration, and increased the expression of molecules involved in regulatory T cell function, such as Foxp3 and TGF-β. In conclusion, the ability of VIP to down-regulate uncontrolled inflammation by targeting TLR-mediated responses and regulatory T cell activity could be used as a new alternative therapy for intestinal inflammatory/autoimmune disorders.

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