Upregulation of bacterial-specific Th1 and Th17 responses that are enriched in CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells in non-small cell lung cancer

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Abstract

The microbial community in the mucosal surfaces is involved in the development of human cancers, including gastric cancer and colorectal cancer. The respiratory tract in the lung also hosts a distinctive microbial community, but the correlation between this community and lung cancer is largely unknown. Here, we examined the Th1 and Th17 responses toward several bacterial antigens, in CD4+ T cells sourced from the peripheral blood (PB), the lung cancer (LC) tissue, and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Compared to healthy controls, the NSCLC patients presented significantly higher frequencies of Th1 and Th17 cells reacting to Streptococcus salivarius and S. agalactiae, in the PB, LC, and GI tract. Further investigation showed that the upregulation in anti-bacteria response was likely antigen-specific for two reasons. Firstly, the frequencies of Th1 and Th17 cells reacting to Escherichia coli, a typical GI bacterium, were not upregulated in the PB and the LC of NSCLC patients. Secondly, the S. salivarius and S. agalactiae responses could be partially blocked by Tü39, a MHC class II blocking antibody, suggesting that antigen-specific interaction between CD4+ T cells and antigen-presenting cells was required. We also found that S. salivarius and S. agalactiae could potently activate the monocytes to secrete higher levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12, and tumor necrosis factor, which were Th1- and Th17-skewing cytokines. Interestingly, whereas CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells represented < 20% of total CD4+ T cells, they represented 17%–82% of bacteria-specific Th1 or Th17 cells. Together, these data demonstrated that NSCLC patients presented a significant upregulation of bacterial-specific Th1 and Th17 responses that were enriched in CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells.

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