Interleukin-4 Promotes Tuft Cell Differentiation and Acetylcholine Production in Intestinal Organoids of Non-Human Primate

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 24;22(15):7921. doi: 10.3390/ijms22157921.


In the intestine, the innate immune system excludes harmful substances and invading microorganisms. Tuft cells are taste-like chemosensory cells found in the intestinal epithelium involved in the activation of group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2). Although tuft cells in other tissues secrete the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), their function in the gut remains poorly understood. In this study, we investigated changes in the expression of genes and cell differentiation of the intestinal epithelium by stimulation with interleukin-4 (IL-4) or IL-13 in macaque intestinal organoids. Transcriptome analysis showed that tuft cell marker genes were highly expressed in the IL-4- and IL-13-treated groups compared with the control, and the gene expression of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), a synthesis enzyme of ACh, was upregulated in IL-4- and IL-13-treated groups. ACh accumulation was observed in IL-4-induced organoids using high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS), and ACh strongly released granules from Paneth cells. This study is the first to demonstrate ACh upregulation by IL-4 induction in primates, suggesting that IL-4 plays a role in Paneth cell granule secretion via paracrine stimulation.

Keywords: IL-4; acetylcholine; intestine; organoid; primate; tuft cell.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Macaca fuscata / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta / metabolism
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Organoids / drug effects
  • Organoids / metabolism*
  • Organoids / physiology


  • Interleukin-4
  • Acetylcholine