Modeling the Role of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor c and MicroRNA-146 in Mucosal Immune Responses to Clostridium difficile
Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic bacterium that has re-emerged as a facultative pathogen and can cause nosocomial diarrhea, colitis or even death. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) c has been implicated in the prevention of inflammation in autoimmune and infectious diseases; however, its role in the immunoregulatory mechanisms modulating host responses to C. difficile and its toxins remains largely unknown. To characterize the role of PPARc in C. difficileassociated disease (CDAD), immunity and gut pathology, we used a mouse model of C. difficile infection in wild-type and T cell-specific PPARc null mice. The loss of PPARc in T cells increased disease activity and colonic inflammatory lesions following C. difficile infection. Colonic expression of IL-17 was upregulated and IL-10 downregulated in colons of T cellspecific PPARc null mice. Also, both the loss of PPARc in T cells and C. difficile infection favored Th17 responses in spleen and colonic lamina propria of mice with CDAD. MicroRNA (miRNA)-sequencing analysis and RT-PCR validation indicated that miR-146b was significantly overexpressed and nuclear receptor co-activator 4 (NCOA4) suppressed in colons of C. difficile infected mice. We next developed a computational model that predicts the upregulation of miR-146b, downregulation of the PPARc co-activator NCOA4, and PPARc, leading to upregulation of IL-17. Oral treatment of C. difficile-infected mice with the PPARc agonist pioglitazone ameliorated colitis and suppressed pro-inflammatory gene expression. In conclusion, our data indicates that miRNA-146b and PPARc activation may be implicated in the regulation of Th17 responses and colitis in C. difficile-infected mice.