Background and aims: Inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] is characterised by a disruption of immune homeostasis, which is tightly regulated to protect against harmful pathogens yet not react to commensal antigens. Animal studies indicate that regulatory T cells [Treg] modulate the immune response to prevent IBD development. Lactoferrin [LF] is an endogenous anti-inflammatory pleiotropic protein secreted at high concentrations in colostrum and at mucosal sites. However, the effect of LF on specific T lymphocyte populations has not been studied. Here, we identify a novel mechanism by which a recombinant human LF, VEN-120, regulates T cell populations in health and disease.
Methods: Two murine models of intestinal inflammation, the dextran sodium sulphate colitis model and the TNFΔARE/+ model of ileitis, were used to study the anti-inflammatory and T cell modulating ability of VEN-120. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate T cell populations within the lamina propria and mesenteric lymph nodes, and to evaluate the effect of VEN-120 on CD4+ T cells in vitro.
Results: VEN-120 reduced inflammation in both models of IBD, accompanied by increased Tregs in the intestinal lamina propria. Treatment of CD4+ T cells in vitro resulted in an upregulation of Treg genes and skewing towards a Treg population. This in vitro T cell skewing translated to an increase of Treg homing to the intestinal lamina propria and associated lymph tissue in healthy mice.
Conclusions: These data provide a novel immunological mechanism by which VEN-120 modulates T cells to restrict inflammatory T cell-driven disease.
Keywords: VEN-120; colitis; lactoferrin; regulatory T cells.
© European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) 2017.