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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34478. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034478. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Gastrointestinal microbiota do not significantly contribute to T cell activation or GI inflammation in Ndfip1-cKO mice.

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Cell and Molecular Biology Group, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


The bacteria inhabiting the mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract play a vital role in normal digestion and immune function. In a healthy host, the immune system is tolerant to gut bacteria and does not mount an effector response to bacteria-derived antigens. Loss of tolerance to intestinal microflora has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both mice and humans. Mice lacking Ndfip1, an adaptor protein for E3 ubiquitin ligases of the Nedd4-family, in T cells (Ndfip1-cKO) develop a disease resembling IBD. Inflammation in these mice is characterized by increased activation of peripheral T cells, infiltration of eosinophils into the GI tract, and epithelial hypertrophy in the esophagus. We hypothesized that this intestinal inflammation in Ndfip1-cKO mice is caused by a loss of T-cell tolerance to bacterial antigens. Here, we show that treatment of Ndfip1-cKO mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics drastically reduced bacterial load in stool but had little effect on T-cell activation and did not affect eosinophil infiltration into the GI tract or epithelial hypertrophy in the esophagus. Thus, inflammation in Ndfip1-cKO mice is not caused by a loss of tolerance to intestinal microbiota. Rather, T cell activation and eosinophilia may instead be triggered by other environmental antigens.

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