Neutrophils are the first responders to sites of inflammation when the intestinal epithelial barrier is breached and the gut microbiota invade. Despite current efforts in understanding the role of neutrophils in intestinal homeostasis, the complex interactions between neutrophils and intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) is still not well characterized. In this study, we demonstrated that neutrophils enhanced production of amphiregulin (AREG), a member of the EGFR ligand family, by IECs, which promoted IEC barrier function and tissue repair. Depletion of neutrophils resulted in more severe colitis in mice because of decreased AREG production by IECs upon dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) insult. Administration of AREG restored epithelial barrier function and ameliorated colitis. Furthermore, neutrophil-derived TGF-β promoted AREG production by IECs. Mechanistically, TGF-β activated MEK1/2 signaling, and inhibition of MEK1/2 abrogated TGF-β-induced AREG production by IECs. Collectively, these findings reveal that neutrophils play an important role in the maintenance of IEC barrier function and homeostasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy