Study Title:

Dietary Indoles Suppress Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity by Inducing a Switch from Proinflammatory Th17 Cells to Anti-Inflammatory Regulatory T Cells through Regulation of MicroRNA

Study Abstract

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has been shown to have profound influence on T cell differentiation, and use of distinct AhR ligands has shown that whereas some ligands induce regulatory T cells (Tregs), others induce Th17 cells. In the present study, we tested the ability of dietary AhR ligands (indole-3-carbinol [I3C] and 3,3'-diindolylmethane [DIM]) and an endogenous AhR ligand, 6-formylindolo(3,2-b)carbazole (FICZ), on the differentiation and functions of Tregs and Th17 cells. Treatment of C57BL/6 mice with indoles (I3C or DIM) attenuated delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to methylated BSA and generation of Th17 cells while promoting Tregs. In contrast, FICZ exacerbated the DTH response and promoted Th17 cells. Indoles decreased the induction of IL-17 but promoted IL-10 and Foxp3 expression. Also, indoles caused reciprocal induction of Tregs and Th17 cells only in wild-type (AhR(+/+)) but not in AhR knockout (AhR(-/-)) mice. Upon analysis of microRNA (miR) profile in draining lymph nodes of mice with DTH, treatment with I3C and DIM decreased the expression of several miRs (miR-31, miR-219, and miR-490) that targeted Foxp3, whereas it increased the expression of miR-495 and miR-1192 that were specific to IL-17. Interestingly, treatment with FICZ had precisely the opposite effects on these miRs. Transfection studies using mature miR mimics of miR-490 and miR-1192 that target Foxp3 and IL-17, respectively, or scrambled miR (mock) or inhibitors confirmed that these miRs specifically targeted Foxp3 and IL-17 genes. Our studies demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, that the ability of AhR ligands to regulate the differentiation of Tregs versus Th17 cells may depend on miR signature profile.

Study Information

J Immunol. 2016 Feb 1;196(3):1108-22. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1501727. Epub 2015 Dec 28. PMID: 26712945; PMCID: PMC4724476.

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