Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is a negative regulator of lymphocyte responses that is expressed predominantly in macrophages and dendritic cells. We detected it at high levels in the small intestine and mesenteric lymph node of young adult mice, suggesting a role in intestinal immunity. Consistent with this idea, we found that IDO-deticient mice had elevated baseline levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG in the serum and increased IgA in intestinal secretions. These abnormalities were corrected by a course of broad-spectrum oral antibiotics started at weaning, indicating that they were dependent on the intestinal microbiota. Kynurenine and picolinic acid, two IDO-generated metabolites of tryptophan, were able to inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced antibody production by splenocytes in vitro, and kynurenine also induced B-cell apoptosis, findings that provide an explanation for the elevated Ig levels in animals lacking IDO. The intestinal secretions of IDO-deficient mice had elevated levels of IgA antibodies that cross-reacted with the gram-negative enteric bacterial pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. In keeping with the functional importance of this natural secretory IgA, the mutant animals were more resistant to intestinal colonization by Citrobacter, developed lower levels of serum Citrobacter-specific IgM and IgG antibodies following oral infection, and had significantly attenuated Citrobacter-induced colitis. Our observations point to an important role for IDO in the regulation of immunity to the gut commensal microbiota that has a significant impact on the response to intestinal pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases