Akkermansia muciniphila induces intestinal adaptive immune responses during homeostasis

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Science  21 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6446, pp. 1179-1184
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7479

Context shapes anticommensal immunity

The gut bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila is associated with protection from obesity, enhanced wound healing, and augmented antitumor responses. Ansaldo et al. found that this microbe induces antigen-specific immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) antibodies generated by B cells with CD4+ T cell help. This is in contrast to most anticommensal responses, which involve the T cell–independent production of IgA antibodies. In a gnotobiotic setting in which all components of the microbiome are defined, A. muciniphila–specific T cells expanded only when A. muciniphila was present. The T cells primarily displayed a phenotype associated with B cell help. However, in mice with a conventional gut microbiota, other proinflammatory A. muciniphila–specific T cell populations also expanded. Thus, anti–A. muciniphila immunity is context dependent, which may explain the variable immune responses to this microbe reported in patients.

Science, this issue p. 1179


Intestinal adaptive immune responses influence host health, yet only a few intestinal bacteria species that induce cognate adaptive immune responses during homeostasis have been identified. Here, we show that Akkermansia muciniphila, an intestinal bacterium associated with systemic effects on host metabolism and PD-1 checkpoint immunotherapy, induces immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) antibodies and antigen-specific T cell responses in mice. Unlike previously characterized mucosal responses, T cell responses to A. muciniphila are limited to T follicular helper cells in a gnotobiotic setting, without appreciable induction of other T helper fates or migration to the lamina propria. However, A. muciniphila–specific responses are context dependent and adopt other fates in conventional mice. These findings suggest that, during homeostasis, contextual signals influence T cell responses to the microbiota and modulate host immune function.

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