Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe, currently untreatable intestinal disease that predominantly affects preterm infants and is driven by poorly characterized inflammatory pathways. Here, human and murine NEC intestines exhibit an unexpected predominance of type 3/TH17 polarization. In murine NEC, pro-inflammatory type 3 NKp46−RORγt+Tbet+ innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) are 5-fold increased, whereas ILC1 and protective NKp46+RORγt+ ILC3 are obliterated. Both species exhibit dysregulation of intestinal TLR repertoires, with TLR4 and TLR8 increased, but TLR5-7 and TLR9-12 reduced. Transgenic IL-37 effectively protects mice from intestinal injury and mortality, whilst exogenous IL-37 is only modestly efficacious. Mechanistically, IL-37 favorably modulates immune homeostasis, TLR repertoires and microbial diversity. Moreover, IL-37 and its receptor IL-1R8 are reduced in human NEC epithelia, and IL-37 is lower in blood monocytes from infants with NEC and/or lower birthweight. Our results on NEC pathomechanisms thus implicate type 3 cytokines, TLRs and IL-37 as potential targets for novel NEC therapies.
Andrew Fryga (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)
Camilla Cohen (Manager)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)