Studies of Mucosal Immune Regulation in Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Background: Celiac disease (CD) and type 1 diabetes (T1D) are two chronic autoimmune diseases with increasing incidence worldwide. A combination of genetic, environmental and immunological factors is considered to be involved in development of the diseases, even though the exact disease mechanisms still are unknown. CD and T1D are both believed to be associated with type 1 like immune responses. However, there is limited knowledge about the complex network of intestinal and peripheral immune responses associated with the diseases.Aims: The aim of this thesis was to explore intestinal and peripheral immune responses in children at different stages of CD and in children with T1D. Further, we studied peripheral immune responses in children at risk for T1D supplemented with probiotics during their first 6 months of life (PRODIA study).Results & Discussion: Children with untreated CD had up-regulated T-helper (Th)1, T-cytotoxic (Tc)1, Th17 and T-regulatory (Treg) responses, but down-regulated Th2 and Th3 responses in the small intestine. The type 1 response (Th1 and Tc1) seemed to remain elevated in CD children under gluten free diet (GFD)-treatment and thus seemed to be related to the disease itself rather than the gluten intake. The Th2, Th3, Th17 and Treg responses seemed to be gluten dependent, since they normalized upon GFD-treatment. The alterations in the intestinal biopsies did not seem to correlate with the alterations seen in the blood Children with potential CD had diminished levels of the Th17 cytokine IL-17, whereas children with untreated CD had elevated levels of IL-17, indicating that IL-17 immunity develops in the late phase of CD when villous atrophy has developed. Furthermore, stimulation of intestinal epithelial cells with IL-17 induced anti-apoptotic mechanisms. The low intestinal expression of Th1, Th17 and Treg markers was normal in children with T1D, whereas children with T1D and CD had the same pattern as children with untreated CD: high intestinal secretion of pro-inflammatory and Th17 cytokines. The immune responses in children with T1D were generally influenced by the degree of villous atrophy.As expected, the number of children in the PRODIA study developing T1D related autoantibodies during their first two years of life was low. No difference in the autoantibody emergence was seen between infants given probiotics compared to placebo. In the probiotic group, the number of circulating CD58+ monocytes was lower at 6 months of age. At 12 months of age the number of circulating CCR5+ monocytes was lower in the probiotic group, whereas the spontaneous expression of TLR9 on PBMCs was higher.Conclusion: Most of the intestinal T-cell associated immune alterations were generally gluten dependent, since they normalized on a GFD treatment, but the type 1 response seemed to be related to the disease itself, since it was still seen in GFD treated individuals. IL-17 immunity seemed to be induced in the late stage of CD, when villous atrophy has developed and it seemed to be involved in protection from tissue damage in the inflamed intestinal mucosa. The intestinal immune responses were generally not reflected in peripheral blood.Probiotic supplementation in infancy modulated the activation stage and stimulation response of monocytes. Thus, early exposure to microbes seemed to influence the function of the innate immune system in later life.