Shiou SR, Yu Y, Guo Y, Westerhoff M, Lu L, Petrof EO, Sun J, Claud EC
Inflammatory immune responses play an important role in mucosal homeostasis and gut diseases. Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), central to the proinflammatory cascade, is activated in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating condition of intestinal injury with extensive inflammation in premature infants. TGF-β is a strong immune suppressor and a factor in breast milk, which has been shown to be protective against NEC. In an NEC animal model, oral administration of the isoform TGF-β1 activated the downstream effector Smad2 in intestine and significantly reduced NEC incidence. In addition, TGF-β1 suppressed NF-κB activation, maintained levels of the NF-κB inhibitor IκBα in the intestinal epithelium, and systemically decreased serum levels of IL-6 and IFN-γ. The immature human fetal intestinal epithelial cell line H4 was used as a reductionistic model of the immature enterocyte to investigate mechanism. TGF-β1 pretreatment inhibited the TNF-α-induced IκBα phosphorylation that targets the IκBα protein for degradation and inhibited NF-κB activation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays demonstrated decreased NF-κB binding to the promoters of IL-6, IL-8, and IκBα in response to TNF-α with TGF-β1 pretreatment. These TGF-β1 effects appear to be mediated through the canonical Smad pathway as silencing of the TGF-β central mediator Smad4 resulted in loss of the TGF-β1 effects. Thus, TGF-β1 is capable of eliciting anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting NF-κB specifically in the intestinal epithelium as well as by decreasing systemic IL-6 and IFN-γ levels. Oral administration of TGF-β1 therefore can potentially be used to protect against gastrointestinal diseases.