Research Papers: Immunology:

Interleukin-26 (IL-26) is a novel anti-microbial peptide produced by T cells in response to staphylococcal enterotoxin

Anders Woetmann, Morten Alhede, Sally Dabelsteen, Thomas Bjarnsholt, Morten Rybtke, Claudia Nastasi, Thorbjørn Krejsgaard, Mads Hald Andersen, Charlotte M. Bonefeld, Carsten Geisler, Michael Givskov and Niels Odum _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:19481-19489. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24603

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Anders Woetmann1,*, Morten Alhede2,*, Sally Dabelsteen3,*, Thomas Bjarnsholt4,2, Morten Rybtke4,2, Claudia Nastasi1, Thorbjørn Krejsgaard1, Mads Hald Andersen5, Charlotte M. Bonefeld1, Carsten Geisler1, Michael Givskov4,5,6 and Niels Odum1

1Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2Department of Clinical Microbiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark

3Department of Odontology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

4Costerton Biofilm Center, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

5Center for Cancer Immune Therapy (CCIT), Department of Hematology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark

6Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Niels Odum, email: [email protected]

Keywords: IL-26; antimicrobial peptide; staphylococcus aureus enterotoxins; chronic wounds; superantigens staphylococcus pseudomonas; Immunology

Received: October 15, 2017     Accepted: February 24, 2018     Published: April 13, 2018


Anti-microbial peptides are produced at outer and inner surfaces by epithelia and innate immune cells in response to bacterial infection. Staphylococcus aureus is an enterotoxin producing, Gram-positive pathogen, which is a major cause of soft tissue infections and life-threatening bacteremia and sepsis. Here we show that (i) skin T cells in chronic wounds infected with S. aureus express interleukin-26 (IL-26) in situ, (ii) staphylococcal enterotoxins (SE) trigger IL-26 expression in T cell lines and primary skin T cells, and (iii) IL-26 triggers death and inhibits biofilm formation and growth of S. aureus. Thus, we provide novel evidence that IL-26 is an anti-microbial peptide produced by T cells in response to SE. Accordingly, we propose that IL-26 producing T cells take part in the innate immune response to SE producing S. aureus and thus play a novel role in the primary innate immune defense in addition to their classical role in adaptive immunity.

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