Epithelial NEMO links innate immunity to chronic intestinal inflammation

Arianna Nenci, Christopher Becker, Andy Wullaert, Ralph Gareus, Geert van Loo, Silvio Danese, Marion Huth, Alexei Nikolaev, Clemens Neufert, Blair Madison, Deborah Gumucio, Markus F Neurath, Manolis Pasparakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

879 Citations (Scopus)


Deregulation of intestinal immune responses seems to have a principal function in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. The gut epithelium is critically involved in the maintenance of intestinal immune homeostasis-acting as a physical barrier separating luminal bacteria and immune cells, and also expressing antimicrobial peptides. However, the molecular mechanisms that control this function of gut epithelial cells are poorly understood. Here we show that the transcription factor NF-kappaB, a master regulator of pro-inflammatory responses, functions in gut epithelial cells to control epithelial integrity and the interaction between the mucosal immune system and gut microflora. Intestinal epithelial-cell-specific inhibition of NF-kappaB through conditional ablation of NEMO (also called IkappaB kinase-gamma (IKKgamma)) or both IKK1 (IKKalpha) and IKK2 (IKKbeta)-IKK subunits essential for NF-kappaB activation-spontaneously caused severe chronic intestinal inflammation in mice. NF-kappaB deficiency led to apoptosis of colonic epithelial cells, impaired expression of antimicrobial peptides and translocation of bacteria into the mucosa. Concurrently, this epithelial defect triggered a chronic inflammatory response in the colon, initially dominated by innate immune cells but later also involving T lymphocytes. Deficiency of the gene encoding the adaptor protein MyD88 prevented the development of intestinal inflammation, demonstrating that Toll-like receptor activation by intestinal bacteria is essential for disease pathogenesis in this mouse model. Furthermore, NEMO deficiency sensitized epithelial cells to tumour-....
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557 - 561
Number of pages5
Issue number7135
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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