Background & aims: Helicobacter pylori infection increases gastric regulatory T cell (Treg) response, which may contribute to H pylori immune escape. We hypothesize that H pylori directs Treg skewing by way of dendritic cells (DCs) and thus inhibits interleukin-17(+) helper T cells (Th17) immunity.
Methods: Two-photon microscopy was used to locate DCs in gastric lamina propria of mice. The induction of Th17 and Treg responses by bacteria-pulsed murine bone marrow-derived DCs was analyzed by cytokine production and stimulation of T-cell proliferation. The effect of VacA, CagA, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), and IL-10 on Th17/Treg balance was assessed. The in vivo significance of Tregs on the H pylori-specific Th17 response and H pylori density was determined by using anti-CD25 neutralizing antibodies to deplete Tregs in mice.
Results: We showed that mucosal CD11c(+) DCs are located near the surface of normal gastric epithelium, and their number increased after H pylori infection. Study of the direct interaction of DCs with H pylori showed a Treg-skewed response. The Treg skewing was independent of H pylori VacA and CagA and dependent on TGF-beta and IL-10. In vivo Treg skewing by adoptive transfer of H pylori-pulsed DCs reduces the ratio of gastric IL-17/Foxp3 mRNA expressions. The depletion of CD25(+) Tregs results in early reduction of H pylori density, which is correlated with enhanced peripheral H pylori-specific Th17, but not Th1, response.
Conclusions: Overall, our study indicates that H pylori alters the DC-polarized Th17/Treg balance toward a Treg-biased response, which suppresses the effective induction of H pylori-specific Th17 immunity.
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