Background & aims: Gut-associated dendritic cells (DC) metabolize vitamin A into all-trans retinoic acid (RA), which is required to induce lymphocytes to localize to the gastrointestinal tract and promotes the differentiation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and IgA antibody-secreting cells. We investigated whether RA functions in a positive-feedback loop in DC to induce its own synthesis.
Methods: We measured levels of retinoids in intestinal tissues from mice and assessed the role of RA in the functional specialization of gut-associated DC in cell cultures and mice. We used pharmacologic antagonists to determine the signaling pathways involved in regulation of DC and used MyD88-/- mice to determine the contribution of Toll-like receptor signaling in RA-mediated effects on DC.
Results: The concentration of retinoids decreased in a proximal-to-distal gradient along the intestine, which correlated with the activity of gut-specific DC. Importantly, RA regulated the ability of gut-associated DC to produce RA, induce T cells to localize to the gastrointestinal tract, and generate regulatory T cells and IgA-secreting cells. RA was sufficient to induce its own production by extraintestinal DC in vitro and in vivo. RA-mediated regulation of DC required signaling through the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway and unexpectedly required MyD88, which is conventionally associated with Toll-like receptor, interleukin-1, and interleukin-18 signaling.
Conclusions: RA is necessary and sufficient to induce DC to regulate T-cell localization to the gastrointestinal tract and IgA secretion. Our findings also indicate crosstalk between the RA receptor and MyD88-dependent Toll-like receptor signaling pathways.
Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.