Effect of tumor necrosis factor α, interferon γ, and interleukin-4 on bacteria-enterocyte interactions

D. J. Hess, M. J. Henry-Stanley, E. A. Erickson, C. L. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background. Little is known about the mechanisms involved in bacterial translocation from the intestinal lumen to extraintestinal sites. Because the cytokine cascade associated with sepsis, inflammation, and trauma has been shown to affect intestinal epithelial permeability, experiments were designed to clarify the effects of selected cytokines on bacterial adherence to and internalization by cultured HT-29 and Caco-2 enterocytes. Methods. Mature, confluent enterocytes were pre-treated 48 to 72 h with tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), interferon γ, (IFN-γ), or interleukin-4 (IL-4). Adherence of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, Proteus mirabilis, and Escherichia coli was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and bacterial internalization was quantified by the gentamicin protection assay. Enterocyte permeability was measured by transepithelial electrical resistance and by flux of 40-kDa fluorescent dextran. Bacterial transmigration across confluent enterocytes was measured using enterocytes cultivated on permeable supports. Results. TNF-α, IFN-γ, and IL-4 had variable effects on bacterial adherence to HT-29 and Caco-2 enterocytes, although the most consistent finding was increased bacterial adherence associated with INF-γ. However, none of these cytokines had a noticeable effect on bacterial internalization by either Caco-2 or HT-29 enterocytes. In addition, none of these cytokines had a noticeable effect on the permeability of confluent enterocytes as measured by transepithelial electrical resistance or dextran flux. Bacterial transmigration across confluent HT-29 enterocytes was not altered by TNF-α, IFN-γ, or IL-4; however, IL-4 consistently decreased bacterial transmigration across confluent Caco-2 enterocytes. Conclusions. IFN-γ may augment the epithelial adherence of selected species of enteric bacteria, and IL-4 may act as a barrier-sustaining agent to decrease bacterial migration across the intestinal epithelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by Public Health Service Grants AI 23484 and F32-AI 49686 from the National Institutes of Health.


  • Bacterial translocation
  • Cytokine
  • Enterocyte
  • Interferon γ
  • Interleukin-4
  • Tumor necrosis factor α


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