Aim: To determine if primary murine colonic epithelial cells (CEC) respond to commensal bacteria and discriminate between different types of bacteria.
Methods: A novel CEC: bacteria co-culture system was used to compare the ability of the colonic commensal bacteria, Bacteroides ovatus, E. coli (SLF) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) to modulate production of different cytokines (n = 15) by primary CEC. Antibody staining and flow cytometry were used to investigate Toll-like receptor (TLR) expression by CEC directly ex vivo and TLR responsiveness was determined by examining the ability of TLR ligands to influence CEC cytokine production.
Results: Primary CEC constitutively expressed functional TLR2 and TLR4. Cultured in complete medium alone, CEC secreted IL-6, MCP-1 and IP-10 the levels of which were significantly increased upon addition of the TLR ligands peptidoglycan (PGN) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Exposure to the commensal bacteria induced or up-regulated different patterns of cytokine production and secretion. E. coli induced production of MIP-1alpha/beta and betadefensin3 whereas B. ovatus and L. rhamnosus exclusively induced MCP-1 and MIP-2alpha expression, respectively. TNFalpha, RANTES and MEC were induced or up-regulated in response to some but not all of the bacteria whereas ENA78 and IP-10 were up-regulated in response to all bacteria. Evidence of bacterial interference and suppression of cytokine production was obtained from mixed bacterial: CEC co-cultures. Probiotic LGG suppressed E. coli- and B. ovatus-induced cytokine mRNA accumulation and protein secretion.
Conclusion: These observations demonstrate the ability of primary CEC to respond to and discriminate between different strains of commensal bacteria and identify a mechanism by which probiotic bacteria (LGG) may exert anti-inflammatory effects in vivo.