Environmental Microbial Factors Determine the Pattern of Inflammatory Lesions in a Murine Model of Crohn’s Disease-Like Inflammation
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflamm. Bowel. Dis.
Crohn’s disease (CD) patients can be grouped into patients suffering from ileitis, ileocolitis, jejunoileitis, and colitis. The pathophysiological mechanism underlying this regional inflammation is still unknown. Although most murine models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) develop inflammation in the colon, there is an unmet need for novel models that recapitulate the spontaneous and fluctuating nature of inflammation as seen in CD. Recently, mice with an intestinal epithelial cell-specific deletion for Caspase-8 (Casp8ΔIEC mice), which are characterized by cell death-driven ileitis and disrupted Paneth cell homeostasis, have been identified as a novel model of CD-like ileitis. Here we uncovered that genetic susceptibility alone is sufficient to drive ileitis in Casp8ΔIEC mice. In sharp contrast, environmental factors, such as a disease-relevant microbial flora, determine colonic inflammation. Accordingly, depending on the microbial environment, isogenic Casp8ΔIEC mice either exclusively developed ileitis or suffered from pathologies in several parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Colitis in these mice was characterized by massive epithelial cell death, leading to spread of commensal gut microbes to the extra-intestinal space and hence an aberrant activation of the systemic immunity. We further uncovered that Casp8ΔIEC mice show qualitative and quantitative changes in the intestinal microbiome associated with an altered mucosal and systemic immune response. In summary, we identified that inflammation in this murine model of CD-like inflammation is characterized by an immune reaction, presumably directed against a disease-relevant microbiota in a genetically susceptible host, with impaired mucosal barrier function and bacterial clearance at the epithelial interface.