Prostaglandin E2 constrains systemic inflammation through an innate lymphoid cell–IL-22 axis

Science  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6279, pp. 1333-1338
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9903

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A prostaglandin barrier to inflammation

Blood-borne bacterial infections and severe trauma can send the immune system into overdrive, causing it to pump out inflammatory mediators, sometimes at lethal doses. Duffin et al. now report on a role for prostaglandins in keeping systemic inflammation in check. Systemic inflammation correlates with decreased production of the prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Blocking PGE2 signaling in mice led to severe inflammation associated with the translocation of gut bacteria. PGE2 acts on innate lymphoid cells, which produce interleukin-22, a secreted protein that helps promote intestinal integrity.

Science, this issue p. 1333


Systemic inflammation, which results from the massive release of proinflammatory molecules into the circulatory system, is a major risk factor for severe illness, but the precise mechanisms underlying its control are not fully understood. We observed that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), through its receptor EP4, is down-regulated in human systemic inflammatory disease. Mice with reduced PGE2 synthesis develop systemic inflammation, associated with translocation of gut bacteria, which can be prevented by treatment with EP4 agonists. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that PGE2-EP4 signaling acts directly on type 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), promoting their homeostasis and driving them to produce interleukin-22 (IL-22). Disruption of the ILC–IL-22 axis impairs PGE2-mediated inhibition of systemic inflammation. Hence, the ILC–IL-22 axis is essential in protecting against gut barrier dysfunction, enabling PGE2-EP4 signaling to impede systemic inflammation.

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