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We investigated the consequences of feeding with a Lactobacillus species on the immune environment in GALT, and the role of dendritic cells and heme oxygenase-1 in mediating these responses. Feeding with a specific strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus induced a significant increase in CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ functional regulatory T cells in GALT. This increase was greatest in the mesenteric lymph nodes and associated with a marked decrease in TNF and IFNγ production. Dendritic cell regulatory function and HO-1 expression was also increased. The increase in Foxp3+ T cells could be prevented by treatment with a heme oxygenase inhibitor. However, neither inhibition of heme oxygenase nor blockade of IL-10 and TGFβ prevented the inhibition of inflammatory cytokine production. In conclusion Lactobacillus feeding induced a tolerogenic environment in GALT. HO-1 was critical to the enhancement of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells while additional, as yet unknown, pathways were involved in the down-regulation of inflammatory cytokine production by T cells.


Khalil Karimi, Nalaayini Kandiah, Jessie Chau, John Bienenstock, Paul Forsythe. A Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain induces a heme oxygenase dependent increase in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. PloS one. 2012;7(10):e47556

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PMID: 23077634

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