Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56547. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056547. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 changes the frequency of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in the intestine and mesenteric lymph node in experimental necrotizing enterocolitis.

Author information

Divisions of Gastroenterology and Allergy-Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA.


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an inflammatory disease of the intestine in premature infants. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 improves survival and reduces the incidence and severity of NEC in a rodent model. Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain intestinal homeostasis by controlling inflammation and inducing tolerance. To determine whether there are insufficient numbers of Tregs to control inflammation in NEC and to determine if LR17938 increases the frequency of Tregs, we studied selected groups of newborn Sprague-Dawley rats according to feeding plan: dam±LR17938, formula±LR17938, and NEC±LR17938. NEC was induced by gavage feeding with special formula and exposure to hypoxic conditions. Lymphocytes isolated from ileum, mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), spleen and thymus were labeled for T cell surface markers (CD3, CD4, CD8) and intracellular Foxp3; and labeled cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. The percentage of CD3(+) T cells and Foxp3(+) Tregs in the ileum significantly decreased in pups with NEC, compared to normal controls. Feeding LR17938 to neonatal rats with NEC increased the % of Foxp3(+) T cells in the ileum while decreasing the percentage of cells in the MLN. Administration of LR17938 to dam-fed rats significantly increased Foxp3(+)Tregs in the ileum as early as day of life (DOL)1 but did not produce an increase in Tregs in formula-fed rats on DOL1. These results suggest that factors in breast milk may enhance the early immunomodulatory effects of LR17938. An anti-inflammatory effect of LR17938 in NEC was associated with the modulation of immune responses and induction and what appears to be migration of Foxp3(+) Tregs to the diseased gut. Probiotic-facilitated development of Tregs might play an important role in the prevention of NEC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center