Activation of p38α in T cells regulates the intestinal host defense against attaching and effacing bacterial infections.

Research paper by Eun-Jin EJ Shim, Bo-Ram BR Bang, Seung-Goo SG Kang, Jianhui J Ma, Motoyuki M Otsuka, Jiman J Kang, Martin M Stahl, Jiahuai J Han, Changchun C Xiao, Bruce A BA Vallance, Young Jun YJ Kang

Indexed on: 07 Aug '13Published on: 07 Aug '13Published in: Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)


Intestinal infections by attaching and effacing (A/E) bacterial pathogens cause severe colitis and bloody diarrhea. Although p38α in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) plays an important role in promoting protection against A/E bacteria by regulating T cell recruitment, its impact on immune responses remains unclear. In this study, we show that activation of p38α in T cells is critical for the clearance of the A/E pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. Mice deficient of p38α in T cells, but not in macrophages or dendritic cells, were impaired in clearing C. rodentium. Expression of inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ by p38α-deficient T cells was reduced, which further reduced the expression of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and antimicrobial peptide by IECs and led to reduced infiltration of T cells into the infected colon. Administration of IFN-γ activated the mucosal immunity to C. rodentium infection by increasing the expression of inflammation genes and the recruitment of T cells to the site of infection. Thus, p38α contributes to host defense against A/E pathogen infection by regulating the expression of inflammatory cytokines that activate host defense pathways in IECs.