Biofilm-associated bacterial amyloids dampen inflammation in the gut: oral treatment with curli fibres reduces the severity of hapten-induced colitis in mice

NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2015;1:15019. doi: 10.1038/npjbiofilms.2015.19. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Abstract

Background/objectives: A disruption of epithelial barrier function can lead to intestinal inflammation. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 activation by microbial products promotes intestinal epithelial integrity and overall gut health. Several bacterial species, including enteric bacteria, actively produce amyloid proteins as a part of their biofilms. Recognition of amyloid fibres found in enteric biofilms, termed curli, by the Toll-like receptor (TLR)2/1 complex reinforces barrier function. Here, we investigated the effect of purified curli fibres on inflammation in a mouse model of acute colitis.

Methods: Bone marrow-derived macrophages as well as lamina propria cells were treated with curli fibres of both pathogenic Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and commensal Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 biofilms. Mice were given 0.1 or 0.4 mg of purified curli orally 1 day post administration of 1% 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNBS) enema. Histopathological analysis was performed on distal colonic tissue taken 6 days post TNBS enema. RNA extracted from colonic tissue was subjected to RT-PCR.

Results: Here we show that curli fibres of both pathogenic and commensal bacteria are recognised by TLR2 leading to the production of IL-10, immunomodulatory cytokine of intestinal homeostasis. Treatment of mice with a single dose of curli heightens transcript levels of Il10 in the colon and ameliorates the disease pathology in TNBS-induced colitis. Curli treatment is comparable to the treatment with anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFα) antibodies, a treatment known to reduce the severity of acute colitis in humans and mice.

Conclusion: These results suggest that the bacterial amyloids had a role in helping to maintain immune homeostasis in the intestinal mucosa via the TLR2/IL-10 axis. Furthermore, bacterial amyloids may be a potential candidate therapeutic to treat intestinal inflammatory disorders owing to their remarkable immunomodulatory activity.