Chronic inflammatory T-cell-mediated diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often treated with immunosuppressants including corticosteroids. In addition to the intended T-cell suppression, these farmacons give rise to many side effects. Recently, immunosuppressive phospholipids have been proposed as less-toxic alternatives. We aimed to investigate the immunoregulatory capacities of the naturally occurring phospholipid phosphatidylinositol (PI). Systemic PI treatment dramatically reduced disease severity and intestinal inflammation in murine 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) colitis. Moreover, PI treatment inhibited the inflammatory T-cell response in these mice, as T cells derived from colon-draining LN of PI-treated mice secreted less IL-17 and IFN-γ upon polyclonal restimulation when compared to those of saline-treated mice. Further characterization of the suppressive capacity of PI revealed that the phospholipid suppressed Th cell differentiation in vitro irrespective of their cytokine profile by inhibiting proliferation and IL-2 release. In particular, PI diminished IL-2 mRNA expression and inhibited ERK1-, ERK-2-, p38- and JNK-phosphorylation. Crucially, PI did not ablate Treg differentiation or the antigen-presenting capacity of DCs in vitro. These data validate PI as a pluripotent inhibitor that can be applied mucosally as well as systemically. Its compelling functions render PI a promising novel physiological immune suppressant.

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Keywords Immune suppression, Inflammatory bowel disease, Phospholipids, Regulation, T cells
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van Dieren, J.M, Simons-Oosterhuis, Y, Raatgeep, H.C.R, Lindenbergh-Kortleve, D.J, Lambers, M.E.H, van der Woude, C.J, … Nieuwenhuis, E.E.S. (2011). Anti-inflammatory actions of phosphatidylinositol. European Journal of Immunology, 41(4), 1047–1057. doi:10.1002/eji.201040899