, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 905-913

Association with Selected Bacteria Does Not Cause Enterocolitis in IL-10 Gene-Deficient Mice Despite a Systemic Immune Response

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Resident bacteria have been implicated to play a major role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. While luminally sterile IL-10 gene-deficient mice remain disease-free, their conventionally raised littermates develop enterocolitis associated with increased numbers of luminal and mucosal adherent bacteria. To investigate the role of defined bacteria on the initiation and development of this enterocolitis, we associated luminally sterile IL-10 gene-deficient mice with pure strains of resident bacteria. Axenic, luminally sterile mice were either monoassociated with viridans group Streptococcus or Clostridium sordellii or co-associated with Bacteroides vulgatus and Clostridium sordellii. Seven to 22 weeks later the mice were analyzed for intestinal histologic injury, epithelial permeability, and an inflammatory immune response to bacterial antigens. Despite optimal colonization none of the tested bacteria caused intestinal inflammation, release of inflammatory cytokines from the epithelia, or disruption of the epithelial barrier integrity. However, in the case of association with Bacteroides vulgatus and Clostridium sordellii, a systemic immune response to bacterial-derived antigens was measured, with a magnitude similar to that seen in conventional sick Il-10 gene-deficient mice. This response was not detected in mice associated with viridans group Streptococcus. We conclude that colonization of the intestinal lumen with individual bacterial species may not be sufficient to alter epithelial barrier integrity, increase intestinal cytokine release, or cause intestinal inflammation in susceptible IL-10 gene-deficient mice, despite the ability of these same bacteria to stimulate a systemic response.