Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide ameliorates experimental acute ileitis and extra-intestinal sequelae

Markus M. Heimesaat, Ildiko R. Dunay, Silvia Schulze, André Fischer, Ursula Grundmann, Marie Alutis, Anja A. Kühl, Andrea Tamas, Gabor Toth, Miklos P. Dunay, Ulf B. Göbel, Dora Reglodi, Stefan Bereswill

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The neuropeptide Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) plays pivotal roles in immunity and inflammation. So far, potential immune-modulatory properties of PACAP have not been investigated in experimental ileitis.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Mice were perorally infected with Toxoplasma (T.) gondii to induce acute ileitis (day 0) and treated daily with synthetic PACAP38 from day 1 to 6 post infection (p.i.; prophylaxis) or from day 4 to 6 p.i. (therapy). Whereas placebo-treated control mice suffered from acute ileitis at day 7 p.i. and succumbed to infection, intestinal immunopathology was ameliorated following PACAP prophylaxis. PACAP-treated mice exhibited increased abundance of small intestinal FOXP3+ cells, but lower numbers of ileal T lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages, which was accompanied by less ileal expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-23p19, IL-22, IFN-γ, and MCP-1. Furthermore, PACAP-treated mice displayed higher anti-inflammatory IL-4 concentrations in mesenteric lymph nodes and liver and higher systemic anti-inflammatory IL-10 levels in spleen and serum as compared to control animals at day 7 p.i. Remarkably, PACAP-mediated anti-inflammatory effects could also be observed in extra-intestinal compartments as indicated by reduced pro-inflammatory mediator levels in spleen (TNF-α, nitric oxide) and liver (TNF-α, IFN-γ, MCP-1, IL-6) and less severe histopathological sequelae in lungs and kidneys following prophylactic PACAP treatment. Strikingly, PACAP prolonged survival of T. gondii infected mice in a time-of-treatment dependent manner.

Conclusion/Significance: Synthetic PACAP ameliorates acute small intestinal inflammation and extra-intestinal sequelae by down-regulating Th1-type immunopathology, reducing oxidative stress and up-regulating anti-inflammatory cytokine responses. These findings provide novel potential treatment options of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108389
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 19 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Heimesaat, M. M., Dunay, I. R., Schulze, S., Fischer, A., Grundmann, U., Alutis, M., Kühl, A. A., Tamas, A., Toth, G., Dunay, M. P., Göbel, U. B., Reglodi, D., & Bereswill, S. (2014). Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide ameliorates experimental acute ileitis and extra-intestinal sequelae. PloS one, 9(9), [e108389]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108389