Th2 cytokines down-regulate TLR expression and function in human intestinal epithelial cells

Tobias Mueller, Tomohiro Terada, Ian M. Rosenberg, Oren Shibolet, Daniel K. Podolsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


TLRs serve important immune and nonimmune functions in human intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). Proinflammatory Th1 cytokines have been shown to promote TLR expression and function in IECs, but the effect of key Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13) on TLR signaling in IECs has not been elucidated so far. We stimulated human model IECs with Th2 cytokines and examined TLR mRNA and protein expression by Northern blotting, RT-PCR, real-time RT-PCR, Western blotting, and flow cytometry. TLR function was determined by I-κBα phosphorylation assays, ELISA for EL-8 secretion after stimulation with TLR ligands and flow cytometry for LPS uptake. IL-4 and IL-13 significantly decreased TLR3 and TLR4 mRNA and protein expression including the requisite TLR4 coreceptor MD-2. TLR4/MD-2-mediated LPS uptake and TLR ligand-induced I-κBα phosphorylation and IL-8 secretion were significantly diminished in Th2 cytokine-primed IECs. The down-regulatory effect of Th2 cytokines on TLR expression and function in IECs also counteracted enhanced TLR signaling induced by stimulation with the hallmark Th1 cytokine IFN-γ. In summary, Th2 cytokines appear to dampen TLR expression and function in resting and Th1 cytokine-primed human IECs. Diminished TLR function in IECs under the influence of Th2 cytokines may protect the host from excessive TLR signaling, but likely also impairs the host intestinal innate immune defense and increases IEC susceptibility to chronic inflammation in response to the intestinal microenvironment. Taken together, our data underscore the important role of Th2 cytokines in balancing TLR signaling in human IECs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5805-5814
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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