Background: CARD15/NOD2 mutations are associated with susceptibility to Crohn's Disease (CD) and Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). CD and GVHD are suspected to be related with the dysfunction of Peyer's patches (PP) and isolated lymphoid follicles (LFs). Using a new mouse model invalidated for Card15/Nod2 (KO), we thus analysed the impact of the gene in these lymphoid formations together with the development of experimental colitis.
Methodology/principal findings: At weeks 4, 12 and 52, the numbers of PPs and LFs were higher in KO mice while no difference was observed at birth. At weeks 4 and 12, the size and cellular composition of PPs were analysed by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. PPs of KO mice were larger with an increased proportion of M cells and CD4(+) T-cells. KO mice were also characterised by higher concentrations of TNFalpha, IFNgamma, IL12 and IL4 measured by ELISA. In contrast, little differences were found in the PP-free ileum and the spleen of KO mice. By using chamber experiments, we found that this PP phenotype is associated with an increased of both paracellular permeability and yeast/bacterial translocation. Finally, KO mice were more susceptible to the colitis induced by TNBS.
Conclusions: Card15/Nod2 deficiency induces an abnormal development and function of the PPs characterised by an exaggerated immune response and an increased permeability. These observations provide a comprehensive link between the molecular defect and the Human CARD15/NOD2 associated disorders: CD and GVHD.