Intestinal mucin activates human dendritic cells and IL-8 production in a glycan-specific manner

Felipe Melo-Gonzalez, Thomas M Fenton, Cecilia Forss, Catherine Smedley, Anu Goenka, Andrew S MacDonald, David J Thornton, Mark A Travis

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Cross-talk between different components of the intestinal barrier and the immune system may be important in maintaining gut homeostasis. A crucial part of the gut barrier is the mucus layer, a cross-linked gel on top of the intestinal epithelium that consists predominantly of the mucin glycoprotein MUC2. However, whether the mucin layer actively regulates intestinal immune cell responses is not clear. As recent evidence suggests that intestinal dendritic cells (DCs) may be regulated by the mucus layer, we purified intestinal mucin, incubated with human DCs and determined functional effects. Here we show that expression of the chemokine IL-8 and co-stimulatory DC markers CD86 and CD83 are significantly upregulated on human DCs in the presence of intestinal mucins. Additionally, mucin-exposed DCs promoted neutrophil migration in an IL-8-dependent manner. The stimulatory effects of mucins on DCs were not due to mucin sample contaminants such as LPS, DNA or contaminant proteins. Instead, mucin glycans are important for the pro-inflammatory effects on DCs. Thus, intestinal mucins are capable of inducing important pro-inflammatory functions in DC, which could be important in driving inflammatory responses upon intestinal barrier damage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of biological chemistry
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Journal Article


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