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PLoS One. 2017 Feb 14;12(2):e0171350. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171350. eCollection 2017.

Temporal induction of pro-inflammatory and regulatory cytokines in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells by Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli.

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Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Department of Zoonoses, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.


Campylobacter jejuni along with C. coli are major cause of human gastroenteritis worldwide. So far, the human immune response against Campylobacter is not entirely clear. We hypothesize that it is coordinated by an interaction between pro-inflammatory and regulatory cytokines which is influenced by bacterial and host-individual differences. Accordingly, we used peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy donors to study the primary systemic immune response to C. jejuni and C. coli. PBMC were stimulated by different strains of C. jejuni and C. coli for three time points (5, 10, 24 hours). The production of the pro-inflammatory (IL-6, IL-8, IFN-γ) and the regulatory (IL-10) cytokines were measured by ELISA. All strains induced higher levels of IL-8 and IL-6 than IFN-γ and IL-10. In contrast to IL-8 and IL-6, IL-10 showed a steeper increase over time. While IFN-γ did not show any further increase between 10 and 24 hours. Interestingly, there was a significant correlation between IL-8 and IL-10 which peaked at 24 hours. Despite the variability of the used bacterial strains, their effect on cytokine production was less pronounced than the inter-person differences. The strongest significant effect of the strain was on the level of IL-10. IL-10 and IL-6 were significantly influenced by strain-person interaction. In conclusion, the systemic immune response to C. coli and C. jejuni is characterized by an early pro-inflammatory reaction with later initiation of regulatory immune response which is influenced mainly by the host, explaining the individual variations in disease severity. Additional work is needed to determine the cellular sources of the produced cytokines as well as the campylobacter molecules that might contribute to this stimulation.

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