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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2990-9.

IL-10 gene-deficient mice lack TGF-beta/Smad signaling and fail to inhibit proinflammatory gene expression in intestinal epithelial cells after the colonization with colitogenic Enterococcus faecalis.

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Centre for Nutrition and Food Research, Immunobiology of Nutrition, Technical University of Munich, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


Nonpathogenic enteric bacterial species initiate and perpetuate experimental colitis in IL-10 gene-deficient mice (IL-10(-/-)). Bacteria-specific effects on the epithelium are difficult to dissect due to the complex nature of the gut microflora. We showed that IL-10(-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice fail to inhibit proinflammatory gene expression in native intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) after the colonization with colitogenic Gram-positive Enterococcus faecalis. Interestingly, proinflammatory gene expression was transient after 1 wk of E. faecalis monoassociation in IEC from wild-type mice, but persisted after 14 wk of bacterial colonization in IL-10(-/-) mice. Accordingly, wild-type IEC expressed phosphorylated NF-kappaB subunit RelA (p65) and phosphorylated Smad2 only at day 7 after bacterial colonization, whereas E. faecalis-monoassociated IL-10(-/-) mice triggered persistent RelA, but no Smad2 phosphorylation in IEC at days 3, 7, 14, and 28. Consistent with the induction of TLR2-mediated RelA phosphorylation and proinflammatory gene expression in E. faecalis-stimulated cell lines, TLR2 protein expression was absent after day 7 from E. faecalis-monoassociated wild-type mice, but persisted in IL-10(-/-) IEC. Of note, TGF-beta1-activated Smad signaling was associated with the loss of TLR2 protein expression and the inhibition of NF-kappaB-dependent gene expression in IEC lines. In conclusion, E. faecalis-monoassociated IL-10(-/-), but not wild-type mice lack protective TGF-beta/Smad signaling and fail to inhibit TLR2-mediated proinflammatory gene expression in the intestinal epithelium, suggesting a critical role for IL-10 and TGF-beta in maintaining normal epithelial cell homeostasis in the interplay with commensal enteric bacteria.

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