The type II heat-labile enterotoxins, LT-IIa and LT-IIb, exhibit potent adjuvant properties. However, little is known about their immunomodulatory activities upon interaction with innate immune cells, unlike the widely studied type I enterotoxins that include cholera toxin (CT). We therefore investigated interactions of LT-IIa and LT-IIb with human monocytic THP-1 cells. We found that LT-II enterotoxins were inactive in stimulating cytokine release, whereas CT induced low levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-8. However, all three enterotoxins potently regulated cytokine induction in cells activated by bacterial lipopolysaccharide or fimbriae. Induction of proinflammatory (tumor necrosis factor α [TNF-α]) or chemotactic (IL-8) cytokines was downregulated, whereas induction of cytokines with anti-inflammatory (IL-10) or mucosal adjuvant properties (IL-1β) was upregulated by the enterotoxins. These effects appeared to depend on their A subunits, because isolated B-pentameric subunits lacked regulatory activity. Enterotoxin-mediated inhibition of proinflammatory cytokine induction in activated cells was partially attributable to synergism for endogenous production of IL-10 and to an IL-10-independent inhibition of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation. In sharp contrast to the holotoxins, the B pentamers (LT-IIaB and, to a greater extent, LT-IIbB) stimulated cytokine production, suggesting a link between the absence of the A subunit and increased proinflammatory properties. In this regard, the ability of LT-IIbB to activate NF-κB and induce TNF-α and IL-8 was antagonized by the LT-IIb holotoxin. These findings support distinct immunomodulatory roles for the LT-II holotoxins and their respective B pentamers. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of the holotoxins may serve to suppress innate immunity and promote the survival of the pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases