A netrin domain-containing protein secreted by the human hookworm Necator americanus protects against CD4 T cell transfer colitis

Buitrago, Geraldine and Pickering, Darren and Ruscher, Roland and Caceres, Claudia Cobos and Jones, Linda and Cooper, Martha and Van Waardenberg, Ashley and Ryan, Stephanie and Miles, Kim and Field, Matthew and Dredge, Keith and Daly, Norelle L. and Giacomin, Paul R. and Loukas, Alex (2021) A netrin domain-containing protein secreted by the human hookworm Necator americanus protects against CD4 T cell transfer colitis. Translational Research: The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 232. pp. 88-102. ISSN 1931-5244 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2021.02.012)

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The symbiotic relationships shared between humans and their gastrointestinal parasites present opportunities to discover novel therapies for inflammatory diseases. A prime example of this phenomenon is the interaction of humans and roundworms such as the hookworm, Necator americanus. Epidemiological observations, animal studies and clinical trials using experimental human hookworm infection show that hookworms can suppress inflammation in a safe and well-tolerated way, and that the key to their immunomodulatory properties lies within their secreted proteome. Herein we describe the identification of 2 netrin domain-containing proteins from the N. americanus secretome, and explore their potential in treating intestinal inflammation in mouse models of ulcerative colitis. One of these proteins, subsequently named Na-AIP-1, was effective at suppressing disease when administered prophylactically in the acute TNBS-induced model of colitis. This protective effect was validated in the more robust CD4 T cell transfer model of chronic colitis, where prophylactic Na-AIP-1 reduced T-cell-dependent type-1 cytokine responses in the intestine and the associated intestinal pathology. Mechanistic studies revealed that depletion of CD11c+ cells abrogated the protective anticolitic effect of Na-AIP-1. Next generation sequencing of colon tissue in the T-cell transfer model of colitis revealed that Na-AIP-1 induced a transcriptomic profile associated with the downregulation of metabolic and signaling pathways involved in type-1 inflammation, notably TNF. Finally, co-culture of Na-AIP-1 with a human monocyte-derived M1 macrophage cell line resulted in significantly reduced secretion of TNF. Na-AIP-1 is now a candidate for clinical development as a novel therapeutic for the treatment of human inflammatory bowel diseases.