The intestinal microbiota has been linked to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and oral treatment with specific bacteria can ameliorate IBD. One bacterial mixture, VSL#3, containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus, was clinically shown to reduce inflammation in IBD patients and normalize intestinal levels of IP-10, a lymphocyte-recruiting chemokine, in a murine colitis model. We identified Lactobacillus paracasei prtP-encoded lactocepin as a protease that selectively degrades secreted, cell-associated, and tissue-distributed IP-10, resulting in significantly reduced lymphocyte recruitment after intraperitoneal injection in an ileitis model. A human Lactobacillus casei isolate was also found to encode lactocepin and degrade IP-10. L. casei feeding studies in a murine colitis model (T cell transferred Rag2(-/-) mice) revealed that a prtP-disruption mutant was significantly less potent in reducing IP-10 levels, T cell infiltration and inflammation in cecal tissue compared to the isogenic wild-type strain. Thus, lactocepin-based therapies may be effective treatments for chemokine-mediated diseases like IBD.
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