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Infect Immun. 2007 Feb;75(2):810-9. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Chronic exposure to Helicobacter pylori impairs dendritic cell function and inhibits Th1 development.

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Department of Immunology, Division of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College at Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.


Helicobacter pylori causes chronic gastric infection that affects the majority of the world's population. Despite generating an inflammatory response, the immune system usually fails to clear the infection. Since dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role in shaping the immune response, we investigated the effects of H. pylori on DC function. We have demonstrated that H. pylori increased the expression of activation markers on DCs while upregulating the inhibitory B7 family molecule, PD-L1. Functionally, H. pylori-treated DCs resulted in the production of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-23 but not of alpha interferon (IFN-alpha). While very little or no IL-12 was produced to H. pylori alone, simultaneous ligation of CD40 on DCs induced IL-12 release. We also demonstrated that DCs treated with H. pylori-induced IFN-gamma production by allogeneic naive T cells. However, stimulation of DCs with H. pylori for an extended period of time impaired their ability to produce cytokines after CD40 ligation and limited their ability to promote IFN-gamma release, suggesting that the DCs had become exhausted by the prolonged stimulation. The effect of chronic infection with H. pylori on DC function was further investigated by focusing on DC development. Demonstrating that monocytes differentiated into DCs in the presence of H. pylori exhibited an exhausted phenotype with an impaired ability to produce IL-12 and a downregulation of CD1a. Our results raise the possibility that in chronic H. pylori infection DCs become exhausted after prolonged antigen exposure leading to suboptimal Th1 development. This effect may contribute to persistence of H. pylori infection.

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