Epithelial-cell-intrinsic IKK-beta expression regulates intestinal immune homeostasis

Nature. 2007 Mar 29;446(7135):552-6. doi: 10.1038/nature05590. Epub 2007 Feb 25.


Intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) provide a primary physical barrier against commensal and pathogenic microorganisms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but the influence of IECs on the development and regulation of immunity to infection is unknown. Here we show that IEC-intrinsic IkappaB kinase (IKK)-beta-dependent gene expression is a critical regulator of responses of dendritic cells and CD4+ T cells in the GI tract. Mice with an IEC-specific deletion of IKK-beta show a reduced expression of the epithelial-cell-restricted cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin in the intestine and, after infection with the gut-dwelling parasite Trichuris, fail to develop a pathogen-specific CD4+ T helper type 2 (T(H)2) response and are unable to eradicate infection. Further, these animals show exacerbated production of dendritic-cell-derived interleukin-12/23p40 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha, increased levels of CD4+ T-cell-derived interferon-gamma and interleukin-17, and develop severe intestinal inflammation. Blockade of proinflammatory cytokines during Trichuris infection ablates the requirement for IKK-beta in IECs to promote CD4+ T(H)2 cell-dependent immunity, identifying an essential function for IECs in tissue-specific conditioning of dendritic cells and limiting type 1 cytokine production in the GI tract. These results indicate that the balance of IKK-beta-dependent gene expression in the intestinal epithelium is crucial in intestinal immune homeostasis by promoting mucosal immunity and limiting chronic inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytokines / deficiency
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Homeostasis*
  • I-kappa B Kinase / genetics
  • I-kappa B Kinase / metabolism*
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / parasitology
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Trichuris / immunology
  • Trichuris / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-17
  • NF-kappa B
  • Interferon-gamma
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • thymic stromal lymphopoietin