To date it remains unclear how probiotics affect the immune system. Bacterial envelope components may play an essential role, as these are the first to establish bacterial-host cell interactions. Teichoic acids (TAs), and especially lipoteichoic acids, are the most pro-inflammatory components of the gram-positive bacterial envelope. This effect is dependent on D-alanyl substitution of the TA backbone and interactions with TLR2 on host cells. Although the pro-inflammatory properties of TAs have been established in vitro, it remains unclear how TAs affect immunomodulation in vivo. In this study, we investigated the role of TA D-alanylation on L. plantarum-induced intestinal and systemic immunomodulation in vivo. For this, we compared the effect of L. plantarum WCFS1 and its TA D-Alanylation negative derivative (dltX-D) on the distribution of dendritic cell and T cell populations and responses in healthy mice. We demonstrated that the majority of the L. plantarum-induced in vivo immunomodulatory effects were dependent on D-alanylation (D-Ala), as some L. plantarum WCFS1-induced immune changes were not observed in the dltX-D-treated group and some were only observed after treatment with dltX-D. Strikingly, not only pro-inflammatory immune responses were abolished in the absence of D-Ala substitution, but also anti-inflammatory responses, such as the L. plantarum-induced generation of regulatory T cells in the spleen. With this study we provide insight in host-microbe interactions, by demonstrating the involvement of D-alanylation of TAs on the bacterial membrane in intestinal and systemic immunomodulation in healthy mice. © 2013 Smelt et al.
Smelt, M. J., de Haan, B. J., Bron, P. A., van Swam, I., Meijerink, M., Wells, J. M., … de Vos, P. (2013). The Impact of Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 Teichoic Acid D-Alanylation on the Generation of Effector and Regulatory T-cells in Healthy Mice. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063099