Volume 36 (2017) Issue 3 Pages 101-110
Many probiotic lactobacilli and their extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) have beneficial immunological properties. However, it is unclear how they elicit the host immune response. We thus investigated the immunological properties of UV-killed Lactobacillus delbrueckii TU-1 and L. plantarum KM-9 cells as well as their extracellular polysaccharides (EPSs). High-performance liquid chromatography and ion exchange chromatography analyses showed that their EPSs differ in sugar composition and sugar fractionation. The immunological properties were evaluated in a semi-intestinal model using a Transwell co-culture system that employed human intestinal epithelial (Caco-2) cells on the apical side and murine macrophage (RAW264.7) cells on the basolateral side. The UV-killed cells and EPSs were added to the apical side to allow direct contact with Caco-2 cells and incubated for 6 hr. After incubation, the amounts of tumor necrosis factor-α and several cytokines released by RAW264.7 or Caco-2 cells were quantified by cytotoxic activity on L929 cells (murine fibrosarcoma cell line) and quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR. We found that the UV-killed cells and their EPSs had immunological effects on RAW264.7 cells via Caco-2 cells. The RAW264.7 cells showed different cytokine production profiles when treated with UV-killed cells and EPSs. The UV-killed cells and EPSs promoted a Th1-type cellular response. Furthermore, we found that the UV-killed cells sent positive signals through Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2. Meanwhile, neither EPS sent a positive signal through TLR4 and TLR2. This evidence suggests that both UV-killed cells of the lactobacillus strains and their EPSs trigger a Th1-type immune response in a human host, with the former triggering the response via the TLRs expressed on its epithelium and the latter employing a mechanism yet to be determined, possibly involving a novel receptor that is designed to recognize specific patterns of repeating sugar in the EPSs.