The immunomodulatory effect of cathelicidin-B1 on chicken macrophages

Lianci Peng, Maaike R Scheenstra, Roel M van Harten, Henk P Haagsman, Edwin J A Veldhuizen

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    Cathelicidins (CATHs) play an important role in the innate immune response against microbial infections. Among the four chicken cathelicidins, CATH-B1 is studied the least. In this study, the effect of CATH-B1 on the macrophage response towards avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC) and bacterial ligands was investigated. Our results show that APEC induced CATH-B1 gene expression in both a chicken macrophage cell line (HD11 cells) and primary macrophages, while expression of the other three CATHs was virtually unaffected. While the antimicrobial activity of CATH-B1 is very low under cell culture conditions, it enhanced bacterial phagocytosis by macrophages. Interestingly, CATH-B1 downregulated APEC-induced gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IFN-β, IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8) in primary macrophages. In addition, CATH-B1 pre-incubated macrophages showed a significantly higher gene expression of IL-10 after APEC challenge, indicating an overall anti-inflammatory profile for CATH-B1. Using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), CATH-B1 was shown to bind LPS. This suggests that CATH-B1 reduces toll like receptor (TLR) 4 dependent activation by APEC which may partly explain the decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by macrophages. On the contrary, direct binding of CATH-B1 to ODN-2006 enhanced the TLR21 dependent activation of macrophages as measured by nitric oxide production. In conclusion, our results show for the first time that CATH-B1 has several immunomodulatory activities and thereby could be an important factor in the chicken immune response.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number122
    Number of pages12
    JournalVeterinary Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2020


    • chicken
    • innate immunity
    • macrophages
    • antimicrobial peptides
    • cathelicidins
    • E. coli


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