Caspase-8 controls the gut response to microbial challenges by Tnf-alpha-dependent and independent pathways

Claudia Gunther, Barbara Buchen, Gui-Wei He, Mathias Hornef, Natalia Torow, Helmut Neumann, Nadine Wittkopf, Eva Martini, Marijana Basic, André Bleich, Alastair J. M. Watson, Markus F. Neurath, Christoph Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objectives: Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) express toll-like receptors (TLR) that facilitate microbial recognition. Stimulation of TLR ligands induces a transient increase in epithelial cell shedding, a mechanism that serves the antibacterial and antiviral host defence of the epithelium and promotes elimination of intracellular pathogens. Although activation of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway has been described during inflammatory shedding, its functional involvement is currently unclear.

Design: We investigated the functional involvement of caspase-8 signalling in microbial-induced intestinal cell shedding by injecting Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to mimic bacterial pathogens and poly(I:C) as a probe for RNA viruses in vivo.

Results: TLR stimulation of IEC was associated with a rapid activation of caspase-8 and increased epithelial cell shedding. In mice with an epithelial cell-specific deletion of caspase-8 TLR stimulation caused Rip3-dependent epithelial necroptosis instead of apoptosis. Mortality and tissue damage were more severe in mice in which IECs died by necroptosis than apoptosis. Inhibition of receptor-interacting protein (Rip) kinases rescued the epithelium from TLR-induced gut damage. TLR3-induced necroptosis was directly mediated via TRIF-dependent pathways, independent of Tnf-α and type III interferons, whereas TLR4-induced tissue damage was critically dependent on Tnf-α.

Conclusions: Together, our data demonstrate an essential role for caspase-8 in maintaining the gut barrier in response to mucosal pathogens by permitting inflammatory shedding and preventing necroptosis of infected cells. These data suggest that therapeutic strategies targeting the cell death machinery represent a promising new option for the treatment of inflammatory and infective enteropathies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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