Prophylactic Interleukin-2 Treatment Prevents Fetal Gut Inflammation and Injury in an Ovine Model of Chorioamnionitis

Maria Nikiforou, Joris Vanderlocht, Claire A. Chougnet, Reint K. Jellema, Daan R. M. G. Ophelders, Mandy Joosten, Nico Kloosterboer, Birgit L. M. G. Senden-Gijsbers, Wilfred T. V. Germeraad, Boris W. Kramer, Tim G. A. M. Wolfs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Chorioamnionitis results from an infection of the fetal membranes and is associated with fetal adverse outcomes notably in the intestine. Using a translational ovine model, we showed that intra-amniotic exposure to inflammatory stimuli decreased the regulatory/effector T (Treg/Teff) cell balance in the gut, which was accompanied by intestinal inflammation and mucosal injury. We thus aimed to augment the Treg/Teff cell ratio in the fetal gut by prophylactic IL-2 treatment and evaluate whether it is sufficient to prevent chorioamnionitis-induced intestinal inflammation and mucosal injury. Methods: Fetal sheep (122 d of gestation) were intra-amniotically exposed to lipopolysaccharide for 2 or 7 days with or without prophylactic IL-2 treatment (4 d). We evaluated the infiltration of inflammatory cells in the ileum and mesenteric lymph nodes. Cytokine gene expression was analyzed in fetal ileum and the inflammatory changes were correlated with gut wall integrity. Results: IL-2 administration preferentially increased intestinal Treg cells and thus the Treg/Teff cell ratio. Prophylactic IL-2 treatment reduced the lipopolysaccharide-induced influx of neutrophils and CD3(+) T cells and decreased the messenger RNA levels of proinflammatory cytokines including IL-6 and IL-17 in the fetal ileum. Importantly, prophylactic IL-2 treatment prevented mucosal damage without inducing fetal adverse treatment outcomes. Conclusions: Our data show that prophylactic IL-2 treatment prevents fetal intestinal inflammation and mucosal injury in the context of experimental chorioamnionitis. Modulation of the Treg/Teff cell balance may contribute to the protective effects of IL-2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2026-2038
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

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