The P2Y6 Receptor Mediates Clostridium difficile Toxin-Induced CXCL8/IL-8 Production and Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction Academic Article uri icon

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  • C. difficile is a Gram-positive spore-forming anaerobic bacterium that is the leading cause of nosocomial diarrhea in the developed world. The pathogenesis of C. difficile infections (CDI) is driven by toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB), secreted factors that trigger the release of inflammatory mediators and contribute to disruption of the intestinal epithelial barrier. Neutrophils play a key role in the inflammatory response and the induction of pseudomembranous colitis in CDI. TcdA and TcdB alter cytoskeletal signaling and trigger the release of CXCL8/IL-8, a potent neutrophil chemoattractant, from intestinal epithelial cells; however, little is known about the surface receptor(s) that mediate these events. In the current study, we sought to assess whether toxin-induced CXCL8/IL-8 release and barrier dysfunction are driven by the activation of the P2Y6 receptor following the release of UDP, a danger signal, from intoxicated Caco-2 cells. Caco-2 cells express a functional P2Y6 receptor and release measurable amounts of UDP upon exposure to TcdA/B. Toxin-induced CXCL8/IL-8 production and release were attenuated in the presence of a selective P2Y6 inhibitor (MRS2578). This was associated with inhibition of TcdA/B-induced activation of NFκB. Blockade of the P2Y6 receptor also attenuated toxin-induced barrier dysfunction in polarized Caco-2 cells. Lastly, pretreating mice with the P2Y6 receptor antagonists (MSR2578) attenuated TcdA/B-induced inflammation and intestinal permeability in an intrarectal toxin exposure model. Taken together these data outline a novel role for the P2Y6 receptor in the induction of CXCL8/IL-8 production and barrier dysfunction in response to C. difficile toxin exposure and may provide a new therapeutic target for the treatment of CDI.


  • Hansen, Ashleigh
  • Alston, Laurie
  • Tulk, Sarah
  • Schenck, L Patrick
  • Grassie, Michael E
  • Alhassan, Basmah F
  • Veermalla, Arun Teja
  • Al-Bashir, Samir
  • Gendron, Fernand-Pierre
  • Altier, Christophe
  • MacDonald, Justin A
  • Beck, Paul L
  • Hirota, Simon A

publication date

  • 2013