Human cytokine responses induced by gram-positive cell walls of normal intestinal microbiota

Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Nov;118(2):261-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1999.01047.x.


The normal microbiota plays an important role in the health of the host, but little is known of how the human immune system recognizes and responds to Gram-positive indigenous bacteria. We have investigated cytokine responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to Gram-positive cell walls (CW) derived from four common intestinal indigenous bacteria, Eubacterium aerofaciens (Eu.a. ), Eubacterium limosum (Eu.l.), Lactobacillus casei (L.c.), and Lactobacillus fermentum (L.f.). Our results indicate that Gram-positive CW of the normal intestinal microbiota can induce cytokine responses of the human PBMC. The profile, level and kinetics of these responses are similar to those induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or CW derived from a pathogen, Streptococcus pyogenes (S.p.). Bacterial CW are capable of inducing production of a proinflammatory cytokine, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and an anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, but not that of IL-4 or interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Monocytes are the main cell population in PBMC to produce TNF-alpha and IL-10. Induction of cytokine secretion is serum-dependent; both CD14-dependent and -independent pathways are involved. These findings suggest that the human cytokine responses induced by Gram-positive CW of the normal intestinal microbiota are similar to those induced by LPS or Gram-positive CW of the pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Cell Adhesion / immunology
  • Cell Wall / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Polymyxin B / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Polymyxin B