Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating. Interestingly, there is now evidence of the presence of a low-grade inflammatory status in many IBS patients, including histopathological and mucosal cytokine levels in the colon, as well as the presence of IBS-like symptoms in quiescent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The use of a genetically engineered food-grade bacterium, such as Lactococcus lactis, secreting the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 has been proven by many pre-clinical studies to be a successful therapy to treat colon inflammation. In this study, we first reproduced the recovery-recurrence periods observed in IBS-patients in a new chronic model characterized by 2 episodes of DiNitro-BenzeneSulfonic-acid (DNBS)-challenge and we tested the effects of a recombinant strain of L. lactis secreting IL-10 under a Stress-Inducible Controlled Expression (SICE) system. In vivo gut permeability, colonic serotonin levels, cytokine profiles, and spleen cell populations were then measured as readouts of a low-grade inflammation. In addition, since there is increasing evidence that gut microbiota tightly regulates gut barrier function, tight junction proteins were also measured by qRT-PCR after administration of recombinant L. lactis in DNBS-treated mice. Strikingly, oral administration of L. lactis secreting active IL-10 in mice resulted in significant protective effects in terms of permeability, immune activation, and gut-function parameters. Although genetically engineered bacteria are, for now, used only as a "proof-of-concept," our study validates the interest in the use of the novel SICE system in L. lactis to express therapeutic molecules, such as IL-10, locally at mucosal surfaces.
Keywords: IBS; IL-10; Lactococcis lactis; genetically engineered bacteria; gut hyperpermeability; probiotic.