Pancreatic beta-cells limit autoimmune diabetes via an immunoregulatory antimicrobial peptide expressed under the influence of the gut microbiota
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) expressed by epithelial and immune cells are largely described for the defense against invading microorganisms. Recently, their immunomodulatory functions have been highlighted in various contexts. However how AMPs expressed by non-immune cells might influence autoimmune responses in peripheral tissues, such as the pancreas, is unknown. Here, we found that insulin-secreting β-cells produced the cathelicidin related antimicrobial peptide (CRAMP) and that this production was defective in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. CRAMP administrated to prediabetic NOD mice induced regulatory immune cells in the pancreatic islets, dampening the incidence of autoimmune diabetes. Additional investigation revealed that the production of CRAMP by β-cells was controlled by short-chain fatty acids produced by the gut microbiota. Accordingly, gut microbiota manipulations in NOD mice modulated CRAMP production and inflammation in the pancreatic islets, revealing that the gut microbiota directly shape the pancreatic immune environment and autoimmune diabetes development.
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