By: Yeneneh Haileselassie

Title: Lactobacilli- and Staphylococcus aureus mediated modulation of immune responses in vitro



The human gut harbors a vast number of microbes. These microbes are not passive bystanders. They are important in modulating the immune system. We have previously shown that early colonization with lactobacilli and Staphylococcus (S.) aureus differentially associates with allergy development and/or immune profile at early ages. Here we focus on understanding how these microbes modulate the response of intestinal epithelial cells and immune cells in vitro. In paper I, we investigated the impact of UV-killed and/or cell free supernatant (CFS) of different Lactobacillus (L.) species and S. aureus strains on cytokine production from intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and immune cells. Enterotoxin-expressng S. aureus 161:2-CFS triggered CXCL-1/GRO-α and CXCL-8/IL-8 production by IEC. S. aureus-induced CXCL-8/ IL-8 production was hampered by MyD88 gene silencing of IEC, indicating the importance of TLR signaling. Further, lactobacilli-CFS and S. aureus-CFS were able to induce the production of a number of cytokines by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy donors, but only S. aureus triggered T-cell associated cytokines: IL-2, IL-17, IFN-γ and TNF-α; which were dampened by the co-treatment with S. aureus and any of the different Lactobacillus strains. Flow cytometry of the stimulated PBMC further verified IFN-γ and IL-17 production by T cells upon treatment with S. aureus-CFS, which also induced CTLA-4 expression and IL-10 production by Treg cells. In paper II, we investigated the influence of CFS of L. reuteri and S. aureus on the differentiation of monocyte to DC and subsequently how the generated DC influence T cell response. DC generated in the presence of L. reuteri exhibited an increase in expression of surface markers (HL-DR, CD86, CD83, CCR7) and cytokine production (IL-6, IL-10 and IL-23), but had a decreased phagocytic capacity compared with conventional Mo-DC, showing a more mature phenotype. However, upon LPS stimulation, DC generated in the presence of L. reuteri-CFS displayed a more regulatory phenotype, with a reduced cytokine response both at mRNA and protein levels. On the contrary, DC generated in the presence of S. aureus-CFS resembled the control Mo-DC both at mRNA and protein expression, but SA-DC was more efficient in inducing cytokine production in autologous T cells. In paper III, we studied the influence of L. reuteri-CFS on the retinoic acid (RA)-driven mucosal-like DCs’ phenotype and function to modulate T regulatory cells (Treg) in vitro. DC generated in the presence of RA showed a mucosal-like regulatory-DC phenotype with its CD103 expression, high IL10 production and decreased expression of genes associated with inflammation (NFκB1, RELB and TNF). Further, treatment with L. reuteri-CFS enhanced the regulatory phenotype of RA-DC by increasing the production of several chemokines, such as CXCL1, CXCL5, CCL3, CCL15 and CCL20, which are involved in gut homeostasis, while dampening the expression of most chemokine receptor genes. L. reuteri-CFS also increased CCR7 expression on RA-DC. RA-DC co-cultured with T cell increased IL10 and FOXP3 expression in Treg. However L. reuteri-CFS pre-conditioning of the RA-DC did not improve the Treg phenotype. In conclusion, bacteria-CFS can have an impact on the response of IEC, differentiation and function of DC and, subsequently the T cell response, when taken together in the context of gut; these can have an impact on the health and disease of the host.