The intestinal immune system interacts with commensal microbiota to maintain gut homeostasis. Furthermore, stress alters the microbiome composition, leading to impaired brain function; yet how the intestinal immune system mediates these effects remains elusive. Here we report that colonic γδ T cells modulate behavioral vulnerability to chronic social stress via dectin-1 signaling. We show that reduction in specific Lactobacillus species, which are involved in T cell differentiation to protect the host immune system, contributes to stress-induced social-avoidance behavior, consistent with our observations in patients with depression. Stress-susceptible behaviors derive from increased differentiation in colonic interleukin (IL)-17-producing γδ T cells (γδ17 T cells) and their meningeal accumulation. These stress-susceptible cellular and behavioral phenotypes are causally mediated by dectin-1, an innate immune receptor expressed in γδ T cells. Our results highlight the previously unrecognized role of intestinal γδ17 T cells in the modulation of psychological stress responses and the importance of dectin-1 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of stress-induced behaviors.
© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.