Although commensal flora is involved in the regulation of immunity, the interplay between cytokine signaling and microbiota in atherosclerosis remains unknown. We found that interleukin (IL)-23 and its downstream target IL-22 restricted atherosclerosis by repressing pro-atherogenic microbiota. Inactivation of IL-23-IL-22 signaling led to deterioration of the intestinal barrier, dysbiosis, and expansion of pathogenic bacteria with distinct biosynthetic and metabolic properties, causing systemic increase in pro-atherogenic metabolites such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). Augmented disease in the absence of the IL-23-IL-22 pathway was mediated in part by pro-atherogenic osteopontin, controlled by microbial metabolites. Microbiota transfer from IL-23-deficient mice accelerated atherosclerosis, whereas microbial depletion or IL-22 supplementation reduced inflammation and ameliorated disease. Our work uncovers the IL-23-IL-22 signaling as a regulator of atherosclerosis that restrains expansion of pro-atherogenic microbiota and argues for informed use of cytokine blockers to avoid cardiovascular side effects driven by microbiota and inflammation.
Keywords: IL-22; IL-23; atherosclerosis; cytokines; host-microbe interaction; inflammation; microbiome; myeloid cells.
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