The gastric bacterium causes a persistent infection that is directly responsible for gastric ulcers and gastric cancer in some patients and protective against allergic and other immunological disorders in others. The two outcomes of the -host interaction can be modeled in mice that are infected as immunocompetent adults and as neonates, respectively. Here, we have investigated the contribution of the immunomodulator VacA to -specific local and systemic immune responses in both models. We found that neonatally infected mice are colonized at higher levels than mice infected as adults and fail to generate effector T-cell responses to the bacteria; rather, T-cell responses in neonatally infected mice are skewed toward Foxp3-positive (Foxp3) regulatory T cells that are neuropilin negative and express RORγt. We found these peripherally induced regulatory T cells (pTregs) to be enriched, in a VacA-dependent manner, not only in the gastric mucosa but also in the lungs of infected mice. Pulmonary pTreg accumulation was observed in mice that have been infected neonatally with wild-type but not in mice that have been infected as adults or mice infected with a VacA null mutant. Finally, we traced VacA to gastric lamina propria myeloid cells and show that it suppressed interleukin-23 (IL-23) expression by dendritic cells and induced IL-10 and TGF-β expression in macrophages. Taken together, the results are consistent with the idea that creates a tolerogenic environment through its immunomodulator VacA, which skews T-cell responses toward Tregs, favors persistence, and affects immunity at distant sites. has coexisted with humans for at least 60.000 years and has evolved persistence strategies that allow it to evade host immunity and colonize its host for life. The VacA protein is expressed by all strains and is required for high-level persistent infection in experimental mouse models. Here, we show that VacA targets myeloid cells in the gastric mucosa to create a tolerogenic environment that facilitates regulatory T-cell differentiation, while suppressing effector T-cell priming and functionality. Tregs that are induced in the periphery during infection can be found not only in the stomach but also in the lungs of infected mice, where they are likely to affect immune responses to allergens.
Copyright © 2019 Altobelli et al.