Toll-like Receptor 9 Pathway Mediates Schlafen+-MDSC Polarization During Helicobacter-induced Gastric Metaplasias

Lin Ding, Jayati Chakrabarti, Sulaiman Sheriff, Qian Li, Hahn Nguyen Thi Hong, Ricky A. Sontz, Zoe E. Mendoza, Amanda Schreibeis, Michael A. Helmrath, Yana Zavros, Juanita L. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: A subset of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) that express murine Schlafen4 (SLFN4) or its human ortholog SLFN12L polarize in the Helicobacter-inflamed stomach coincident with intestinal or spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia. We propose that individuals with a more robust response to damage-activated molecular patterns and increased Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) expression are predisposed to the neoplastic complications of Helicobacter infection. Methods: A mouse or human Transwell co-culture system composed of dendritic cells (DCs), 2-dimensional gastric epithelial monolayers, and Helicobacter were used to dissect the cellular source of interferon-α (IFNα) in the stomach by flow cytometry. Conditioned media from the co-cultures polarized primary myeloid cells. MDSC activity was determined by T-cell suppression assays. In human subjects with intestinal metaplasia or gastric cancer, the rs5743836 TLR9T>C variant was genotyped and linked to TLR9, IFNα, and SLFN12L expression by immunohistochemistry. Nuclear factor-κB binding to the TLR9 C allele was determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Results: Helicobacter infection induced gastric epithelial and plasmacytoid DC expression of TLR9 and IFNα. Co-culturing primary mouse or human cells with DCs and Helicobacter induced TLR9, IFNα secretion, and SLFN+-MDSC polarization. Neutralizing IFNα in vivo mitigated Helicobacter-induced spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia. The TLR9 minor C allele creates a nuclear factor-κB binding site associated with higher levels of TLR9, IFNα, and SLFN12L in Helicobacter-infected stomachs that correlated with a greater incidence of metaplasias and cancer. Conclusions: TLR9 plays an essential role in the production of IFNα and polarization of SLFN+ MDSCs on Helicobacter infection. Subjects carrying the rs5743836 TLR9 minor C allele are predisposed to neoplastic complications if chronically infected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-425.e4
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • 2-D Organoid-Derived Monolayer
  • DAMPs
  • IFNα
  • Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells
  • SPEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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