Microbial penetration of the intestinal epithelial barrier triggers inflammatory responses that include induction of the bactericidal C-type lectin RegIIIγ. Systemic administration of flagellin, a bacterial protein that stimulates Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), induces epithelial expression of RegIIIγ and protects mice from intestinal colonization with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Flagellin-induced RegIIIγ expression is IL-22 dependent, but how TLR signaling leads to IL-22 expression is incompletely defined. By using conditional depletion of lamina propria dendritic cell (LPDC) subsets, we demonstrated that CD103(+)CD11b(+) LPDCs, but not monocyte-derived CD103(-)CD11b(+) LPDCs, expressed high amounts of IL-23 after bacterial flagellin administration and drove IL-22-dependent RegIIIγ production. Maximal expression of IL-23 subunits IL-23p19 and IL-12p40 occurred within 60 min of exposure to flagellin. IL-23 subsequently induced a burst of IL-22 followed by sustained RegIIIγ expression. Thus, CD103(+)CD11b(+) LPDCs, in addition to promoting long-term tolerance to ingested antigens, also rapidly produce IL-23 in response to detection of flagellin in the lamina propria.
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