Microbial exposures can define an individual's basal immune state. Cohousing specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice with pet store mice, which harbor numerous infectious microbes, results in global changes to the immune system, including increased circulating phagocytes and elevated inflammatory cytokines. How these differences in the basal immune state influence the acute response to systemic infection is unclear. Cohoused mice exhibit enhanced protection from virulent Listeria monocytogenes (LM) infection, but increased morbidity and mortality to polymicrobial sepsis. Cohoused mice have more TLR2+ and TLR4+ phagocytes, enhancing recognition of microbes through pattern-recognition receptors. However, the response to a TLR2 ligand is muted in cohoused mice, whereas the response to a TLR4 ligand is greatly amplified, suggesting a basis for the distinct response to Listeria monocytogenes and sepsis. Our data illustrate how microbial exposure can enhance the immune response to unrelated challenges but also increase the risk of immunopathology from a severe cytokine storm.
Keywords: Listeria monocytogenes; Toll-like receptors; infection; microbiome; physiological microbial exposure; polymicrobial sepsis.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.