• cytokines;
  • HLA-B27;
  • transgenic rats;
  • commensal bacteria


Germ-free HLA-B27 transgenic (TG) rats do not develop colitis, but colonization with specific pathogen-free (SPF) bacteria induces colitis accompanied by immune activation. To study host-dependent immune responses to commensal caecal bacteria we investigated cytokine profiles in mesenteric lymph node (MLN) cells from HLA-B27 TG versus nontransgenic (non-TG) littermates after in vitro stimulation with caecal bacterial lysates (CBL). Supernatants from CBL-stimulated unseparated T- or B- cell-depleted MLN cells from HLA-B27 TG and non-TG littermates were analysed for IFN-γ, IL-12, TNF, IL-10 and TGF-β production. Our results show that unfractionated TG MLN cells stimulated with CBL produced more IFN-γ, IL-12 and TNF than did non-TG MLN cells. In contrast, CBL-stimulated non-TG MLN cells produced more IL-10 and TGF-β. T cell depletion abolished IFN-γ and decreased IL-12 production, but did not affect IL-10 and TGF-β production. Conversely, neither IL-10 nor TGF-β was produced in cultures of B cell-depleted MLN. In addition, CD4+ T cells enriched from MLN of HLA-B27 TG but not from non-TG rats produced IFN-γ when cocultured with CBL-pulsed antigen presenting cells from non-TG rats. Interestingly, IL-10 and TGF-β, but not IFN-γ, IL-12 and TNF were produced by MLN cells from germ-free TG rats. These results indicate that the colitis that develops in SPF HLA-B27 TG rats is accompanied by activation of IFN-γ-producing CD4+ T cells that respond to commensal bacteria. However, B cell cytokine production in response to components of commensal intestinal microorganisms occurs in the absence of intestinal inflammation.