Lactobacillus plantarum Enhanced IL-22 Production in Natural Killer (NK) Cells That Protect the Integrity of Intestinal Epithelial Cell Barrier Damaged by Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.
Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov 13 ;18(11). Epub 2017 Nov 13. PMID: 29137183
Interleukin (IL)-22-producing Natural Killer (NK) cells protect the gut epithelial cell barrier from pathogens. A strain of probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum, LP), was previously found by our laboratory to significantly improve the mucosal barrier integrity and function of the small intestine in pigs. However, it was unclear whether LP benefited the intestinal mucosal barrier via interactions with the intestinal NK cells. The present study, therefore, was focused on the therapeutic effect of NK cells that were stimulated by LP on attenuating enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC)-induced the damage to the integrity of the epithelial cell barrier. The results showed that LP can efficiently increase protein levels of the natural cytotoxicity receptor (NCR) family, and the expression levels of IL-22 mRNA and protein in NK cells. Transfer of NK cells stimulated by LP conferred protection against ETEC K88-induced intestinal epithelial barrier damage in NCM460 cells. We found that NK cells stimulated by LP could partially offset the reduction in NCM460 cell monolayers transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) caused by ETEC K88, and increase ZO-1 and occludin mRNA and protein expressions by ETEC K88-infected NCM460 cells. Furthermore, adding NK cells that were stimulated by LP to ETEC K88-infected NCM460cells, IL-22R1, p-Stat3, and p-Tyk2 expression by NCM460 cells was increased. Mechanistic experiment showed that NK cells stimulated by LP lost the function of maintaining TEER of NCM460 cells challenged with ETEC K88, when polyclonal anti-IL-22 antibody was used to block IL-22 production. Collectively, our results suggested that LP stimulation of NK could enhance IL-22 production, which might be able to provide defense against ETEC-induced damage to the integrity of intestinal epithelial barrier.