Background: Intestinal homoeostasis is dependent on immunological tolerance to the microbiota. Objective: To (1) determine if a probiotic could induce Foxp3 T cells in humans; (2) to elucidate the molecular mechanisms, which are involved in the induction of Foxp3 T cells by human dendritic cells. Design: Cytokine secretion and Foxp3 expression were assessed in human volunteers following Bifidobacterium infantis feeding. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDCs), myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) were incubated in vitro with B infantis and autologous lymphocytes. Transcription factor expression, costimulatory molecule expression, cytokine secretion, retinoic acid and tryptophan metabolism were analysed. Results: Volunteers fed B infantis displayed a selective increase in secretion of interleukin (IL)-10 and enhanced Foxp3 expression in peripheral blood. In vitro, MDDCs, mDCs and pDCs expressed indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and secreted IL-10, but not IL-12p70, in response to B infantis. MDDC and mDC IL-10 secretion was Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2/6 dependent, while pDC IL-10 secretion was TLR-9 dependent. In addition, MDDCs and mDCs expressed RALDH2, which was TLR-2 and DC-SIGN dependent. B infantis-stimulated MDDCs, mDCs and pDCs induced T cell Foxp3 expression. TLR-2, DC-SIGN and retinoic acid were required for MDDC and mDC induction of Foxp3 T cells, while pDCs required indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. Conclusions: B infantis administration to humans selectively promotes immunoregulatory responses, suggesting that this microbe may have therapeutic utility in patients with inflammatory disease. Cross-talk between multiple pattern-recognition receptors and metabolic pathways determines the innate and subsequent T regulatory cell response to B infantis. These findings link nutrition, microbiota and the induction of tolerance within the gastrointestinal mucosa.
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