Fermentable Dietary Fiber Promotes Helminth Infection and Exacerbates Host Inflammatory Responses

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Fermentable dietary fibers promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, can enhance mucosal barrier integrity, and reduce chronic inflammation. However, effects on intestinal type 2 immune function remain unclear. In this study, we used the murine whipworm Trichuris muris to investigate the effect of the fermentable fiber inulin on host responses to infection regimes that promote distinct Th1 and Th2 responses in C57BL/6 mice. In uninfected mice, dietary inulin stimulated the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium (Actinobacteria) and Akkermansia (Verrucomicrobia). Despite this, inulin prevented worm expulsion in normally resistant mice, instead resulting in chronic infection, whereas mice fed an equivalent amount of nonfermentable fiber (cellulose) expelled worms normally. Lack of expulsion in the mice fed inulin was accompanied by a significantly Th1-skewed immune profile characterized by increased T-bet+ T cells and IFN-γ production in mesenteric lymph nodes, increased expression of Ido1 in the cecum, and a complete absence of mast cell and IgE production. Furthermore, the combination of dietary inulin and high-dose T. muris infection caused marked dysbiosis, with expansion of the Firmicutes and Proteobacteria phyla, near elimination of Bacteroidetes, and marked reductions in cecal short-chain fatty acids. Neutralization of IFN-γ during infection abrogated Ido1 expression and was sufficient to restore IgE production and worm expulsion in inulin-fed mice. Our results indicate that, whereas inulin promoted gut health in otherwise healthy mice, during T. muris infection, it exacerbated inflammatory responses and dysbiosis. Thus, the positive effects of fermentable fiber on gut inflammation appear to be context dependent, revealing a novel interaction between diet and infection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3042-3055
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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Copyright © 2020 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

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