Chitin Activates Parallel Immune Modules
that Direct Distinct Inflammatory Responses
via Innate Lymphoid Type 2 and gd T Cells
Steven J. Van Dyken,1Alexander Mohapatra,1Jesse C. Nussbaum,1Ari B. Molofsky,1,2Emily E. Thornton,3
Steven F. Ziegler,4Andrew N.J. McKenzie,5Matthew F. Krummel,3Hong-Erh Liang,1and Richard M. Locksley1,*
1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Departments of Medicine, Microbiology, and Immunology
2Department of Laboratory Medicine
3Department of Pathology
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
4Immunology Program, Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
5Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK
Chitin, a polysaccharide constituent of many aller-
gens and parasites, initiates innate type 2 lung
inflammation through incompletely defined path-
ways. We show that inhaled chitin induced expres-
sion of three epithelial cytokines, interleukin-25
(IL-25), IL-33, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin
(TSLP), which nonredundantly activated resident
innate lymphoid type 2 cells (ILC2s) to express IL-5
and IL-13 necessary for accumulation of eosinophils
and alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs). In
the absence of all three epithelial cytokines, ILC2s
normally populated the lung but failed to increase
IL-5 and IL-13. Although eosinophils and AAMs
were attenuated, neutrophil influx remained normal
without these epithelial cytokines. Genetic ablation
of ILC2s, however, enhanced IL-1b, TNFa, and
IL-23 expression, increased activation of IL-17A-pro-
ducing gd T cells, and prolonged neutrophil influx.
Thus, chitin elicited patterns of innate cytokines
lymphoid cells, revealing divergent but interacting
pathways underlying the tissue accumulation of spe-
cific types of inflammatory myeloid cells.
Chitin, a polymer of b-1,4-N-actetylglucosamine and a wide-
spread polysaccharide constituent of arthropods, parasites,
and fungi, is among the few molecular agents described to
induce innate type 2 reactions accompanied by eosinophils
and alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs) (Reese et al.,
2007). In fungi, chitin complexes with b-glucans, galacto-
mannans, and mannoproteins to form the hyphal cell wall (Fon-
taine et al., 2000), and in house dust mites and other insects,
chitin comprises both the exoskeleton and peritrophic matrix,
ing peritrophin domains such as the allergen Der p 23 (Hegedus
et al., 2009; Weghofer et al., 2013). The response to chitin is
characterized by recombinase activating gene (RAG)-indepen-
dent tissue accumulation of eosinophils, which is attenuated
by the STAT6-inducible mammalian chitinase AMCase (Reese
et al., 2007; Van Dyken et al., 2011). Chitin also leads to Arg1
expression in mouse macrophages, a marker for IL-4- and IL-
13-activated AAMs, which are associated with eosinophils in a
variety of physiologic settings (Van Dyken and Locksley, 2013).
The pathways underlying the induction of these cell types by
chitin, however, remain incompletely defined.
Type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) are systemically
dispersed tissue cells in humans and mice and produce IL-5
and IL-13 in response to epithelial-associated cytokines such
as thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), IL-25, and IL-33 (re-
viewed in Walker et al., 2013). Exogenous administration or
transgenic expression of any of these epithelial cytokines results
in exaggerated type 2 immune pathology in the lung, suggesting
roles in the initiation of allergic immunity (Fort et al., 2001;
Schmitz et al., 2005; Zhou et al., 2005). Lung inflammation can
be induced by the plant-derived proteinase papain by an un-
known mechanism but is attenuated in broadly immunodeficient
mice that lack ILC2s (Halim et al., 2012). It remains to be estab-
lished whether active papain resembles fungal-derived protein-
ases, which generate fibrinogen cleavage products to activate
Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in the airways (Millien et al., 2013).
Nevertheless, chitin mediates eosinophilia in a TLR4-indepen-
dent manner (Reese et al., 2007), and the relative contributions
of IL-25, IL-33, and TSLP to ILC2 function in vivo remain unre-
solved. Here, we dissect the network of cytokines produced in
response to chitin, a natural constituent of inhaled allergens, to
reveal a nonredundant role for these three epithelial cytokines
in activation of resident ILC2s to produce cytokines mediating
eosinophil and AAM accumulation. Unexpectedly, chitin also
generated a separate suite of cytokines implicated in the activa-
tion of resident gd T cells that produce IL-17A and mediate
neutrophil accumulation. Genetic ablation of ILC2s resulted in
enhanced gd T cell activation and prolonged neutrophil recruit-
ment to tissues, revealing a previously unappreciated interaction
414 Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc.
between innate lymphoid cell activation and the control of
specific types of infiltrating myeloid effector cells.
Cells in Lung Tissue
Chitin particles induce innate inflammatory responses in lung
tissue characterized by eosinophils and Arg1-expressing
AAMs (Reese et al., 2007); however, differences in particle
size, concentration, and source material impart variability to
these responses (Da Silva et al., 2009). To dissect these mecha-
nistic components, we size-fractionated endotoxin-free pure
intranasal dose daily for 2 days before analysis the following day
synthetic polymers such as polystyrene (PS) or polymethylme-
thacrylate (PMMA), resulted in robust accumulation of lung eo-
sinophils and Arg1-reporter (Yarg)-positive AAMs (Figures 1B
and 1C; Figure S1A available online), supporting earlier findings
(Reese et al., 2007) and confirming specificity of the response to
the polysaccharide chitin. Fluorescently labeled chitin was visu-
alized in situ 1 hr after instillation via 2-photon live lung slice im-
aging (Thornton et al., 2012) and immunohistology, but no chitin-
associated inflammation was apparent at this time point (Movie
S1). Within 2–3 hr, however, chitin beads were surrounded by
focal inflammatory cell clusters that consisted of numerous
motile c-fms+myeloid cells (Movie S2) and cells that appeared
to be eosinophils, because they expressed the Il44get/4getre-
porter allele (Mohrs et al., 2001) and were absent in eosinophil-
deficient Il44get/4getGata1DdblGATA/DdblGATAmutant mice, which
lack eosinophils because of a mutation in the high-affinity, palin-
dromic ‘‘double’’ GATA protein binding site of the Gata1 pro-
moter (Figure 1D; Yu et al., 2002). Subsequently, 12–24 hr after
chitin but not PS administration, Arg1-expressing AAMs were
also present in inflammatory foci coincident with degradation
of the chitin particles (Figure 1E; Movies S3, S4, and S5).
Type 2 Cytokine Production Contributes to AAM and
Eosinophils and AAMs are hallmarks of polarized type 2 tissue
ters suggested an innate contribution of the canonical type 2 cy-
tokines IL-4, IL-5,and IL-13, which control tissue maintenance of
administering chitin to mice lacking IL-4 (homozygous Il4KN2/KN2
reporter mice, which contain a gene encoding a nonsignaling hu-
prevents endogenous Il4 gene expression) (Mohrs et al., 2005),
nent STAT6 (Stat6?/?). The genetic absence of IL-4 alone did not
the IL-4KN2reporterafter chitin administration (data notshown).
In contrast, we observed decreased numbers of lung eosinophils
an IL-13-mediated contribution (Figures 2A and 2B). Chitin
administration also led to an increase in lung expression of
eotaxin-1 (CCL11), a chemokine previously linked to eosinophil
Figure 1. Chitin Induces Focal Clustering of
Type 2 Innate Immune Cells
(A) Intranasal chitin-dosing regimen.
(B and C) Total lung eosinophils (B) and Arg1+
(Arg1Yarg) after intranasal administration of equiv-
alent numbers of indicated bead types. Abbrevi-
ations are as follows: PS, polystyrene; PMMA,
polymethylmethacrylate. Total live cell subset
numbers were calculated from cell counts and
flow cytometric percentages as described in
(D) Lung histology from Il44get
time points after intranasal chitin administration.
Colors are as follows: red, rhodamine-conjugated
chitin-binding probe; green, 4get+cells; blue,
(E) Localization of Arg1+cells (green) within chitin
inflammatory clusters (red) in lung sections from
Yarg reporter mice at indicated time points. Far
right panel, yellow indicates PS bead (90 mm).
Data are representative of at least two indepen-
treatment groups were pooled in (B) and (C) to
represent mean ± SEM, n = 4/group; **p < 0.0001
(unpaired t test), compared to PBS-treated con-
trol. Scale bar represents 30 mm. See also Fig-
ure S1 and Movies S1, S2, S3, S4, and S5.
mice at indicated
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc. 415
recruitment via IL-13 activity, and mice lacking the eotaxin-1
receptor CCR3 exhibited a decreased eosinophil response (Fig-
ure S2). Although the absence of the transcription factor STAT6
did not impact eosinophil numbers, in agreement with prior find-
ings (Reese et al., 2007), STAT6 was required for AAM induction
(Figure 2B), suggesting that IL-13 signaling via STAT6 increases
Arg1 expression in macrophages but also mediates STAT6-
independent effects on eosinophil accumulation.
To identify cellular sources of IL-13 in lung tissue after chitin
exposure, we used Il13Smart/Smartmice, whose cells contain a
nonsignaling huCD4 surface marker downstream of an IRES
inserted in the 30region of the endogenous Il13 gene, thus sus-
taining normal expression (Liang et al., 2012). Lung cells from
unchallenged mice expressed no detectable IL-13 reporter
activity. After chitin, ILC2s, but no other immune cells, were
robustly positive for the huCD4 IL-13 reporter, consistent with
their expression of IL-13 in situ(Figures 2C and S3). IL-13 protein
was also present in culture supernatants from ILC2s sorted from
(data not shown). Increased IL-13 production by ILC2s corre-
lated with their increased recovery that occurred even in the
absence of IL-4 and/or IL-13 or STAT6 (Figure 2E) and coincided
with elevated expression of CD25 and CD69 (Figure 2F). Thus,
chitin activates ILC2s to produce local IL-13 that contributes to
the in vivo accumulation of eosinophils and AAMs.
IL-5 Expression Identifies Lung ILC2s In Vivo and
Mediates Eosinophil, but Not AAM, Accumulation
in Response to Chitin
The activation of IL-13 expression by lung ILC2s in response
to chitinled usto examine theinvolvement ofIL-5,anILC2-asso-
ciated type 2 cytokine critical for eosinophilia in the context of
allergen exposure and helminth infection. By using IL-5 reporter
mice that express RFP (tdTomato) and Cre recombinase from
the Il5 start site (Il5Red5/Red5) (Molofsky et al., 2013), we noted
that many lung ILC2s were RFP+under resting conditions. After
chitin administration, however, IL-5 expression increased (Fig-
ures 3A and 3B). Similar to IL-13, IL-5 expression was restricted
to ILC2s and appeared in no other cells (Figure S4). We tested
whether chitin-induced IL-5 expression by ILC2s could be
modulated by acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase), a STAT6-
dependent enzyme involved in chitin degradation (Reese et al.,
2007; Van Dyken et al., 2011). When administered to mice that
et al., 2007), chitin no longer induced IL-5 reporter expression in
lung ILC2s (Figure 3C), thus genetically positioning intact chitin
upstream of ILC2 activation and suggesting that AMCase induc-
tion limits the duration of the inflammatory response.
Lung imaging during chitin challenge revealed IL-5-express-
ing ILC2s in close proximity with medium-to-large blood ves-
sels containing VCAM1+endothelial cells (Figure 3D) and with
airways in which collagen was evident by second harmonic
generation via 2-photon microscopy (Figure S5, Movies S6,
S7, S8, and S9). Consistent with the association between IL-
5-expressingILC2s and the
increased serum IL-5 levels after chitin (Figure 3E), supporting
a dual role for ILC2s in mediating both local and systemic
effects on eosinophils. Indeed, IL-5 was critical for eosinophil
accumulation after chitin challenge, as indicated by the fact
that mice lacking IL-5 (homozygous Il5Red5/Red5) had normal
numbers of lung ILC2s but diminished numbers of eosinophils
after chitin challenge (Figures 3F and 3G). In contrast, IL-5
vasculature, we observed
Figure 2. Induction of IL-13 from ILC2s in
Response to Chitin Contributes to AAM
and Eosinophil Accumulation
(A and B) Total eosinophil numbers (A) and Arg1+
macrophages (B) in lungs of indicated mice (on a
Yarg reporter background) treated with chitin as
described in Figure 1.
(C) Expression of IL-13 (huCD4) on lung ILC2s
from wild-type (WT) and Il13Smartreporter (S13)
mice 24 hr after intranasal chitin challenge.
Numberindicates percentage ofILC2s(Lin-CD25+
Thy1+) positive for huCD4 marker.
(D) IL-13 protein levels in culture supernatant from
sorted ILC2s after in vivo PBS or chitin treatment.
ND indicates none detected.
(E and F) Total ILC2 numbers in the lungs of
indicated mice (E) and cell surface expression
of indicated markers among ILC2s 48 hr after
PBS or chitin treatment (F). MFI values are indi-
(left), PBS-treated (middle), or chitin-treated (right)
Flow cytometry results shown in (C) and (F) are
representative of three independent experiments,
and (A),(B), (D), and (E)represent mean ± SEM, n=
4–6/group; *p < 0.001; **p < 0.0001 (unpaired
t test), compared to PBS-treated control. See also
Figures S2 and S3.
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
416 Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc.
deficiency had no impact on chitin-induced AAM accumula-
tion, as shown by the fact that Il5Red5/Red53 Arg1Yarg/Yarg
mice had wild-type numbers of Arg1-expressing AAMs (Fig-
ure 3H), thereby dissociating the effects of IL-5 and eosinophils
from that of IL-13 and AAMs. The impairment of eosinophils in
the absence of either IL-5 or IL-13 implied that these two
ILC2-derived cytokines cooperate to mediate nonredundant
aspects of eosinophil production, recruitment, and/or retention
in response to chitin. Taken together, these results indicated
that inhaled chitin provoked local accumulation of both eosin-
ophils and AAMs by stimulating innate production of type 2
cytokines from ILC2s, which could be attenuated by increased
local chitinase activity.
Genetic Deletion of ILC2s Abolishes Chitin-Induced
like T Cell and Inflammatory Cytokine Responses
AAM accumulation by using cytokine-mediated cell deletion. To
this end we crossed IL-5 (Il5Red5/Red5) and IL-13 (Il13YetCre/YetCre)
reporter mice with mice bearing the Gt(Rosa)26DTAallele, which
mediates cell deletion after IL-5 or IL-13 expression, respec-
tively, via concurrent Cre-mediated activation and cytotoxic
expression of endogenous diphtheria toxin a (Molofsky et al.,
2013; Price et al., 2010; Voehringer et al., 2008). Consistent
with the activation of these reporters in ILC2s after chitin
Figure 3. Chitin Administration Increases IL-5 Expression among Lung ILC2s In Vivo and Mediates Eosinophil, but Not AAM, Accumulation
(A) Expression of IL-5 (tdTomato) among lung ILC2s from wild-type (WT) and heterozygous Il5Red5/+reporter (R/+) mice before and 24 hr after intranasal chitin
(B) IL-5 protein levels in culture supernatant from sorted ILC2s after in vivo PBS or chitin treatment.
(C) Flow cytometric analysis of IL-5 (tdTomato) MFI among ILC2 populations from wild-type or SPAM transgenic mice on a heterozygous Il5Red5/+(R/+)
background 24 hr after in vivo PBS or chitin treatment.
(D) Lung micrograph from chitin-challenged Il5Red5/Red5mouse costained with VCAM-1 and DAPI. Colors are as follows: green, VCAM-1; blue, DAPI+cell nuclei;
red, IL-5 (Red5)+ILC2s.
(E) Serum IL-5 levels after in vivo PBS or chitin treatment in WT or homozygous Red5 (Il5Red5/Red5) mice.
(F–H) Total numbers of ILC2s (F), eosinophils (G), and Arg1+macrophages (H) in lungs of indicated mice (on a Yarg reporter background) after chitin treatment as
described in Figure 1.
Results shown in (A) and (D) are representative of three independent experiments, and (B), (C), and (E)–(H) represent mean ± SEM, n = 4–6/group; *p < 0.001;
**p < 0.0001 (unpaired t test), compared to PBS-treated (B, C, E) or WT control (F–H). ND indicates none detected. Scale bar represents 30 mm. See also Figures
S4 and S5 and Movies S6, S7, S8, and S9.
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc. 417
reductions in lung ILC2 numbers that resembled levels in ILC2-
deficient Il2rg?/?Rag2?/?mice after chitin, confirming that cyto-
kine expression in these cells results in their specific elimination
(Figure 4A).ILC2deletion drivenbyeitherIL-5orIL-13resultedin
severely diminished numbers of both eosinophils and AAMs
in response to chitin and resembled the reductions observed in
Il2rg?/?Rag2?/?mice as compared to Il2rg+/?Rag2?/?littermate
controls (Figures 4B and 4C). Together, these data demonstrate
that IL-5- and IL-13-producing ILC2s mediate the accumulation
of eosinophils and AAMs in response to chitin. Notably, the ILC2
deletion efficiency was comparable in both cytokine deleter
strains (Figure 4A), suggesting that a majority of ILC2s express
both IL-5 and IL-13 in response to chitin challenge.
Although eosinophils and AAMs localized to chitin in lung tis-
sue, we also noted the recruitment of additional cells (Figures
1D and 1E), suggesting the induction of additional inflammatory
signals. Indeed, the inflammatory cytokines IL-1b and IL-17A
were induced in lung tissue within 6 hr of chitin treatment (Fig-
ure 5A). Because lung-resident innate-like gd T cells rapidly pro-
duce IL-17A in response to IL-1b and/or IL-23 administration, we
examined whether these cells were activated during chitin
challenge by using IL-17A, IFN-g dual reporter mice (Price
et al., 2012). In contrast to CD4+T cells, a proportion of lung
gd T cells expressed IL-17A, but not IFN-g, in response to intra-
nasal chitin (Figure 5B).
Unexpectedly, ILC2 deletion resulted in altered kinetics and
elevated expression of several inflammatory cytokines in lung
tissue after chitin challenge, including TNFa, IL-1b, IL-23, and
IL-17A (Figure 5C), consistent with a heightened gd T cell
response. In support of this, lung gd T cells that produced IL-
17A in response to chitin coexpressed the activation marker
CD69 (Figure 5D), and we detected increased total gd T cell
numbers in the lungs of RRDD mice after chitin challenge along
of neutrophils in ILC2-deficient RRDD mice as compared to
wild-type and IL-5-deficient (Il5Red5/Red5) controls; however,
this response was abrogated by treatment of RRDD mice with
a gd TCR antibody (UC7-13D5), resulting in a reduction of neu-
trophils to levels observed in mice deficient in either T cells
ILC2s in the suppression of exacerbated inflammatory cytokine
signaling and gd T cell activation in response to chitin. Intrigu-
ingly, gd T cell and neutrophil numbers were unaltered as
compared to control animals after chitin treatment in both
Il4?/?Il13?/?and Il5 transgenic mice that contain excessive
amounts of eosinophils (Figure 5F and data not shown). Thus,
enhanced gd T cell activation and neutrophil accumulation that
occurred in the absence of chitin-activated ILC2s was not due
to the loss of ILC2 IL-5 and IL-13 production or the absence of
eosinophils and AAMs. These results indicated that chitin acti-
vated both ILC2s and innate-like gd T cells to mediate down-
stream inflammatory cell recruitment but that crosstalk between
these two cell types, as revealed by specific in vivo deletion of
ILC2s, was independent of ILC2-derived type 2 cytokines.
Chitin Administration Induces Lung TSLP, IL-25, and
The dual activation of innate ILC2s and innate-like gd T cells by
chitin suggested that distinct modules of epithelial cytokines
could account for the accumulation of different inflammatory
myeloid cells. ILC2s produce type 2 cytokines after administra-
tion of IL-25, IL-33, and TSLP, which are epithelial-associated
cytokines implicated in type 2 immunity (Walker et al., 2013).
We assayed production of these cytokines in lung tissue to
determine their roles in ILC2 stimulation in response to chitin.
We detected increased amounts of lung IL-33 protein after intra-
nasal chitin, in agreement with a previous study (Yasuda et al.,
2012), but we also documented induction of TSLP in lung tissue
and IL-25 in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) during overlapping
time periods (Figures 6A and 6B). Lung ILC2s expressed cyto-
kine receptor subunits specific for IL-25, IL-33, and TSLP under
resting conditions (Figure 6C), but the steady-state numbers of
lung ILC2s were unaltered in mice genetically deficient in TSLPR
(Crlf2?/?), IL-25 (Il25?/?), or IL-33R (Il1rl1?/?) (Figure 6D). Thus,
multiple cytokines with potential ILC2-stimulating activity were
produced in response to chitin and lung ILC2s were poised to
respond to any or all of these cytokines.
Lung ILC2s Are Present in the Combined Absence of
TSLPR, IL-25, and IL-33R but Fail to Produce IL-5 and
IL-13 in Response to Chitin
Combinations of TSLP, IL-25, and IL-33 might act together to
regulate ILC2s (Halim et al., 2012; Hardman et al., 2013; Neill
et al., 2010), but the in vivo contributions of these cytokines to
ILC2 function have not been comprehensively explored. We
generated an inbred cohort of mice with single or combined
Ablates Both Eosinophil and AAM Accumu-
lation in Lung Tissue in Response to Chitin
Total ILC2s (A), eosinophils (B), and Arg1+mac-
rophages (C) in lung tissue of indicated mice (on a
Yarg reporter background) after treatment with
chitin as described in Figure 1. Abbreviations are
as follows: WT, wild-type; YYDD, IL-13 deleter
mice (Il13YetCre/YetCreGt(Rosa)26DTA/DTA); RRDD,
IL-5 deleter mice (Il5Red5/Red5Gt(Rosa)26DTA/DTA).
Data are presented as mean ± SEM, n = 4–6/
group; **p < 0.0001 (unpaired t test), as compared
to WT control.
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
418 Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc.
deficiencies in TSLPR, IL-25, and IL-33R to determine their con-
tributions to ILC2 expansion and function during the innate chitin
response. In the steady-state, ILC2s developed and populated
the lung in normal numbers even in the total absence of TSLPR,
IL-25, and IL-33R (Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient mice)
(Figure 7A). After chitin administration, however, mice lacking
Figure 5. ILC2s Mediate Suppression of Inflammatory Cytokine and Innate-like T Cell Responses after Chitin Stimulation
(A) IL-1b and IL-17A protein levels in whole-lung lysates from wild-type (WT) mice 6 hr after intranasal treatment with PBS or chitin.
(B) Expression of IFN-g (Great; YFP) and IL17A (Smart17; hNGFR) reporters among CD3ε+CD4+T cells and CD3ε+GL3+gd T cells from lungs of IfngGreat/Great
Il17aSmart/Smartdual reporter mice 18 hr after intranasal treatment with PBS, chitin, or IL-1b and IL-23 (10 ng each cytokine).
(C) Cytokine levels in whole-lung lysates from WT or IL-5 deleter (RRDD; Il5Red5/Red5Gt(Rosa)26DTA/DTA) mice at indicated time points after single intranasal
challenge with chitin.
(D) Expression of CD69 and IL17A (hNGFR) reporter among CD3ε+GL3+gd T cells in the lungs of Il17aSmart/Smartreporter mice 48 hr after single intranasal
challenge with PBS (top) or chitin (bottom).
(E and F) Total numbers of CD3ε+GL3+gd T cells (left) and percentage expressing CD69 (right) (E), as well as total neutrophil numbers (F) in the lungs of indicated
mice before (0) and 4 days after a single intranasal chitin dose.
Numbers in each quadrant from flow cytometry plots in (B) and (D) indicate percentage of total T cell subset; data are representative of three independent
experiments. (A), (C), (E), and (F) represent mean ± SEM, n = 3–6/group; *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01 (unpaired t test), compared to PBS-treated (A) or wild-type control at
corresponding time point (C, E, F).
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc. 419
IL-33R showed significantly reduced numbers of lung eosino-
phils (Figure 7B), corroborating results obtained in IL-33-defi-
cient mice (Yasuda et al., 2012), and this was accompanied by
fewer AAMs. Unexpectedly, similar reductions in eosinophils
and AAMs occurred in mice deficient in TSLPR or IL-25, as
well as in mice with compound deficiencies of any two of
these factors. The combined absence of all three factors in
Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient mice, however, resulted
in substantial attenuations of eosinophils and AAMs in response
nonredundant role in the innate response to chitin, yet each can
play a compensatory role in the combined absence of the other
Despite downstream effects on eosinophil and AAM accumu-
lation, the absence of these epithelial activating signals alone or
in combination had no effect on either the resting numbers of
lung ILC2s or their enhanced recovery during the 48 hr after
chitin exposure, including in Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-defi-
cient mice (Figure 7A). In contrast to the response observed in
ILC2-deleted mice (Figures 5C–5F), signals involved in the
recruitment and maintenance of other inflammatory cell types
were unaffected in the Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient
mice, as shown by the fact that neutrophil influx (Figure 7D), gd
T cell numbers, and induction of IL-1b and TNFa in the lung tis-
sue and BAL were unaffected (Figure 7E; data not shown).
Consistent with the deficiencies in eosinophils and AAMs,
ILC2s sorted from chitin-exposed Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-
deficient mice produced no detectable IL-5 and IL-13 as
compared to equal numbers of purified wild-type ILC2s (Fig-
ure 7F). Intriguingly, even after stimulation with ionomycin +
PMA in vitro, ILC2s sorted from the various deficiency settings
produced reduced amounts of IL-5 and IL-13 that corresponded
to their respective in vivo impairments in mediating eosinophil
Figure 6. Expression of Type 2 Epithelial
Cytokines and Receptor Components in
Response to Chitin Stimulation
(A and B) IL-33 and TSLP protein levels in whole-
lung lysate (A) and IL-25 levels in bronchoalveolar
lavage (BAL) fluid (B) from wild-type mice at indi-
cated times after intranasal chitin.
(C) Cell surface expression of indicated markers
on ILC2s from wild-type (WT) mice in comparison
with cells from Il1rl1?/?mice (left), Crlf2?/?mice
(middle), or cells stained with isotype control
antibody (Iso; right).
(D) Total ILC2 numbers in the lungs of indicated
Flow cytometry results shown in (C) are repre-
sentative of three independent experiments, and
(A), (B), and (D) represent mean ± SEM, n = 3–5/
group; *p < 0.001; **p < 0.0001 (unpaired t test),
compared to untreated control.
and AAM accumulation (Figure 7G).
Thus, these epithelial cytokines coordi-
nately regulate ILC2 cytokine produc-
tion and accumulation of innate type 2
myeloid cells in response to chitin
through nonredundant yet partially over-
lapping pathways that are distinct from simultaneously induced
mechanisms that mediate the recruitment and maintenance of
other inflammatory cell types. In sum, these results indicate
that innate and innate-like lymphoid cells operate in parallel
and are poised to respond to multiple epithelial inputs that coop-
erate to influence their activation and function.
Our results define innate pathways of ILC2 and innate-like T cell
activation induced by the polysaccharide chitin, a widespread
environmental constituent derived from arthropods, fungi, and
helminth parasites. The primary initiators of the ILC2 response
in vivo are the epithelial-associated cytokines IL-25, IL-33, and
TSLP, which, as we show here, are each induced by chitin
and are together required to stimulate ILC2 production of IL-5
andIL-13.The lattertwocytokines, inturn,arerequiredfor accu-
mulation of canonical innate cells, eosinophils and AAMs, that
are associated with allergy. Because the production of these
two cytokines is restricted to ILC2s during the chitin response,
we utilized genetic markers and function-based deletion to
demonstrate that IL-13 mediates AAM accumulation by a
STAT6-mediated process, whereas both IL-13 and IL-5 mediate
eosinophilia by a partially STAT6-independent process. The
comparable effects achieved in the two cytokine-based deletion
strains suggest that individually activated ILC2s produce both
cytokinesin responseto chitinanddistinguish ILC2sasessential
regulators of lung eosinophil and AAM accumulation. Notably,
this method of cytokine-mediated depletion of ILC2s achieved
highly specific elimination of these cells with minimal in vivo
manipulation, revealing unexpected effects on innate-like gd
T cells and indicating utility in future studies of ILC2 function,
which heretofore has relied primarily on either nonspecific and
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
420 Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc.
incomplete antibody-mediated or bone-marrow reconstitution
approaches or the use of broadly immunodeficient (e.g.,
Il2rg?/?Rag2?/?) mouse strains (Halim et al., 2012; Monticelli
et al., 2011; Wong et al., 2012; Roediger et al., 2013).
These findings demonstrate rigorously that ILC2s in the lung,
and possibly in other organs, function as sentinel cells capable
of processing multiple epithelial-derived signals to activate cyto-
kines that mediate inflammatory cell recruitment. Although a
close relationship between AAMs and eosinophils has been pre-
viously reported (Reese et al., 2007; Van Dyken and Locksley,
2013; Voehringer et al., 2007), the involvement of a common up-
stream regulator of both these cell types in the lung has not been
established. Although lung ILC2s have been linked to the eosin-
ophilic response to papain, their in vivo relationship to other
innate cells and regulation by epithelial cytokines could not be
resolved via lung explant cultures (Halim et al., 2012). Obtained
by in situ tissue imaging, our results indicate that lung ILC2s
are positioned to relay signals emanating from epithelia to the
endothelium, where recruitment, retention, and/or survival
signals would affect infiltrating inflammatory cells. Red5+ILC2s
were closely associated with vessels expressing VCAM-1,
consistent with the role for eosinophil VLA-4 (a4b1 integrin)-
mediated recruitment during allergic lung inflammation (Rothen-
berg and Hogan, 2006).
Although numbers were drastically reduced, we did not
ophils even in the ILC2-deficient (Il2rg?/?Rag2?/?) mice. Thus,
additional ILC2-independent mechanisms can mediate residual
Figure 7. Epithelial Cytokines Control Chitin-Induced Eosinophil and AAM Accumulation via Regulation of IL-5 and IL-13 Production from
(A–C) Total ILC2 (A), eosinophil (B), and Arg1+macrophage (C) numbers in the lungs of indicated mice (on a Yarg reporter background) treated with PBS or chitin
as described in Figure 1. Abbreviation: WT, wild-type.
(D and E) Total neutrophils (CD11b+Ly6G+Siglec F?; also see Figure S1) in left lung lobe tissue (D) and IL-1b protein levels in lung tissue lysate (E) 24 hr after
intranasal treatment with PBS or chitin.
(F and G) IL-5 and IL-13 protein levels in supernatant from sorted lung ILC2s from WT or Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient mice after in vivo chitin treatment,
cultured in the presence of IL-7 (F) or ionomycin/PMA (G).
NSindicates notstatisticallysignificant;NDindicates nonedetected. Dataarepresentedasmean±SEM,n=3–5/group;*p<0.001;**p<0.0001 (unpairedttest),
compared to chitin-treated WT control.
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc. 421
recruitment or retention of these cells, possibly via epithelial pro-
duction of CCL2 (Roy et al., 2012), macrophage-derived LTB4
(Reese et al., 2007), or STAT6-independent induction of Arg1
in the case of macrophages (Qualls et al., 2010). Although
STAT6 expression has been linked with ILC2 proliferation in
response to fungal challenge (Doherty et al., 2012), we found
that neither STAT6 nor IL-4 and IL-13 were necessary for the
expansion and activation of ILC2s in response to chitin, consis-
tent with earlier findings made during nematode infection (Liang
et al., 2012). Taken together, however, these data support a pre-
dominant role for ILC2-derived type 2 cytokines in mediating
eosinophil and AAM accumulation after chitin exposure. Intrigu-
ingly, we observed a similar relationship among ILC2s, eosino-
phils, and AAMs in maintaining visceral adipose tissue
homeostasis (Molofskyetal.,2013),suggesting thattheseinnate
type 2 immune circuits are also engaged in certain tissues under
basal conditions. As previously reported (Nussbaum et al.,
2013), some resident lung ILC2s spontaneously express IL-5 in
the resting state but were further induced by chitin to express
IL-13 and additional IL-5.
We analyzed intercrossed lines of mice that lacked TSLPR,
IL-25, or IL-33R alone or in all possible combinations, including
each of the three pathways contributed in a nonredundant
tion of lung tissues with eosinophils and AAMs in response to
chitin. Absence of all three cytokines led to almost complete
loss of ILC2 cytokine secretion and innate type 2 inflammatory
cell accumulation. This impairment occurred independently of
matory cells, as indicated by the fact that IL-1b production and
neutrophil recruitment in response to chitin were normal in
Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient mice. In contrast, these
other inflammatoryresponses wereenhancedintheILC2deleter
mice, suggesting that, although canonical type 2 cytokine
signals can inhibit IL-17A-driven neutrophilia and acute lung
damage in the context of parasite infection (Chen et al., 2012),
activated ILC2s generate factors other than IL-5 and IL-13 that
inhibit gd T cell activation and neutrophil recruitment. ILC2s
can produce mediators such as amphiregulin that have been
implicated in lung epithelial repair after virus-induced injury
(Monticelli et al., 2011), although we could not detect amphire-
gulin induction nor did exogenous treatment with amphiregulin
have inhibitory effects on the enhanced chitin-mediated inflam-
matory response in ILC2 deleter mice (data not shown).
Although further experiments will be required to assess the
cell-intrinsic nature of the epithelial cytokine receptor pathways
on ILC2s, we document that each of these receptors is ex-
pressed on lung ILC2s. Synergistic effects of TSLP and IL-33
on cultured ILC2s have been reported (Halim et al., 2012) and
combined IL-25 and IL-33 signals contributed to ILC2 expansion
during helminth infection (Neill et al., 2010) and in response to
fungal extracts (Hardman et al., 2013), but the in vivo absence
of all three signaling pathways has not previously been explored.
As assessed by this innate lung response, the numbers of ILC2s
recovered from tissues before and after chitin were unaffected in
Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?triple-deficient mice, suggesting that
these cytokines are not required for the development of ILC2s.
responses to PMA/ionomycin stimulation in vitro. Because this
challenge bypasses receptor signaling pathways, the possibility
remains that terminal differentiation of ILC2s is dependent on
epithelial cytokines produced in situ. These findings must be
further addressed in light of the possible role of Th2 cells in over-
coming the dependence on epithelial cytokines in adaptive type
2 immune responses, because important roles for CD4 T cells in
ILC2 expansion and activation have also been described
(Wilhelm et al., 2011).
Our data support a model in which an epistatic cascade of
signals initiated at the epithelium converges on ILC2s, which
respond by altering the local microevironment to establish
conditions conducive to specific immune cell retention and alle-
viation of the chitin stimulus through particle degradation. This
multicomponent signal is mainly comprised of TSLP, IL-25,
and IL-33, but additional signals as well as the mechanisms gov-
erning the production and release of these cytokines remain
cells could possibly contribute or respond to TSLP, IL-25, and
IL-33, including basophils (Kroeger et al., 2009; Sokol et al.,
2008), macrophages, and inflammatory dendritic cells (Wills-
Karp et al., 2012) among others (reviewed in Bartemes and
Kita, 2012). In response to chitin stimulation, however, expres-
sion of IL-5 or IL-13 was restricted to ILC2s, whereas IL-4, which
can be produced by basophils in vivo during helminth infection
(Sullivan et al., 2011) and allergic skin inflammation (Egawa
orAAMs. The kinetics of the response, along with the positioning
of lung ILC2s, isconsistent withinitiation atthe subepithelial bar-
rier, which may be compromised by intact chitin particles. In this
respect, IL-33, a nuclear factor that can be biologically active in
full-length form and lacks a signal peptide for secretion, has
been suggested to act as an ‘‘alarmin’’ released during necrosis
(Lu ¨thi et al., 2009), as occurs in response to elevated extracel-
lular ATP (Kouzaki et al., 2011) or because of mechanical stress
(Kakkar et al., 2012). Subsequent processing may also be rele-
of both IL-25 (Goswami et al., 2009) and IL-33 (Lefranc ¸ais et al.,
2012), whereas IL-33 is inactivated by proapoptotic caspases
(Lu ¨thi et al., 2009). Intriguingly, TSLP induces STAT5 and
GATA3 in human ILC2s and mediates functional synergism
with IL-33 (Mjo ¨sberg et al., 2012) in a manner echoing the anti-
gen-independent activation of Th2 cells (Guo et al., 2009), sug-
gesting that similar mechanisms may be engaged during innate
and adaptive type 2 inflammation. Activation of this innate
pathway warrants further studies of its role in mediating allergic
inflammatory responses to chitin-containing particles and or-
ganisms, particularly in regard to its effects on adaptive Th2
cell induction and the role of induced chitinase and chi-lectins
in terminating the response.
Mice were maintained under specific-pathogen-free conditions and all proce-
dures were approved by the UCSF IACUC. Il1rl1?/?mice (Hoshino et al., 1999)
were backcrossed eight generations to BALB/c (Jackson Laboratories) before
intercrossing with Il25?/?(Fallon et al., 2006) and Crlf2?/?(Carpino et al., 2004)
mice on an Arg1Yarg/YargBALB/c reporter background (Reese et al., 2007) to
generate triple-deficient Crlf2?/?Il25?/?Il1rl1?/?Yarg reporter mice, which
Chitin Induces Parallel Inflammatory Pathways
422 Immunity 40, 414–424, March 20, 2014 ª2014 Elsevier Inc.
were analyzed in comparison to wild-type control mice and mice with single
and double deficiencies obtained from the same breeding scheme. Additional
mice included SPAM (Reese et al., 2007), Il44get/4get(Mohrs et al., 2001),
Il4KN2/KN2(Mohrs et al., 2005), Gt(Rosa)26DTA/DTA, Il13YetCre/YetCre(Price
et al., 2010), Il13Smart/Smart(Liang et al., 2012), IfngGreat/GreatIl17aSmart/Smart
(Price et al., 2012), Il5Red5/Red5(Molofsky et al., 2013), and others described
in the Supplemental Experimental Procedures.
In Vivo Treatments
Pure chitin beads (New England Biolabs; NEB) ranging from 50 to 70 mm in
diameter were prepared by size filtration through nylon mesh, washed, and re-
constituted in sterile PBS (Ca2+, Mg2+free) at a final concentration of 105chitin
beads/ml. Mice were briefly anesthetized with isofluorane, and 50 ml of this
suspension (5,000 beads)was aspirated byintranasal administration, followed
by euthanasia and analysis at various time points after instillation. Precision
size standard 60 and 90 mm polystyrene beads (Polysciences) as well as
83 mm polymethylmethacrylate beads (Bangs Laboratories) were prepared
and administered identically. For in vivo anti-gd T cell treatment, purified
UC7-13D5 gd TCRantibody (0.25 mg) was administered tomice intraperitone-
ally 24 hr prior to intranasal chitin.
Tissue Preparation and ILC2 Sorting
Whole lungs were perfused with 20 ml PBS via heart puncture before
excising and preparing single-cell suspensions with an automated tissue
dissociator(gentleMACS; Miltenyi Biotec),
followed by incubation for 35 min at 37?C in HBSS (Ca2+, Mg2+free) contain-
ing 0.2 mg/ml Liberase Tm and 25 mg/ml DNase I (Roche), then program
lung_02. The tissue was further dispersed by passing through 70 mm nylon
filters, washing, and subjecting to red blood cell lysis (PharmLyse; BD Biosci-
ences) before final suspension in PBS/2% fetal calf serum. Cells were stained
for flow cytometry and cultured as described in the Supplemental Experi-
Protein Analysis and Bronchoalveolar Lavage
Lungs were instilled with 1 ml PBS to collect bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL),
which was centrifuged, and supernatant was concentrated with Amicon
Utra-4 filters as recommended (MWCO 10 kDa; EMD Millipore) prior to protein
(eBioscience). Whole-lung lysates were prepared in M tubes (Miltenyi Biotec)
containing TNT lysis buffer and protease inhibitor tablets (Complete; Roche)
via an automated tissue dissociator as recommended (gentleMACS; Miltenyi
Biotec). Total protein content was determined by BCA (Pierce) and equal pro-
tein amounts were assayed for TSLP, IL-33, eotaxin-1, and IL-23p19 by ELISA
as TNFa, IL-1b, IL-12/23 p40, and IL-17A levels in total lung lysates, were
quantified by cytometric bead array (CBA) via an LSRII flow cytometer and
FCAP Array analysis software (BD Biosciences).
Lungs were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde, immersed in 30% sucrose, and
then embedded in OCT compound (Sakura Finetek) prior to frozen sectioning
at 6 mm via a Leica CM 3050S cryomicrotome (Leica Microsystems). Amplifi-
cation and detection of YFP and GFP signals were performed as described
(Reese et al., 2007), and tdTomato fluorescence in Il5Red5/Red5mice was
directly visualized without amplification. Chitin was detected with FITC- and
rhodamine-conjugated chitin-binding domain probes (NEB) (Van Dyken
et al., 2011) and images were acquired with an AxioCam HRm camera and
AxioImager M2 upright microscope (Carl Zeiss).
Statistical analysis was performed as indicated in figure legends by Prism
Supplemental Information includes Supplemental Experimental Procedures,
five figures, and nine movies and can be found with this article online at
for mice, D. Sheppard, C. Lowell, and D. Erle for helpful comments on the
manuscript, and Z. Wang, N. Flores, and M. Consengco for expert technical
assistance. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants
AI026918, AI030663, and HL107202, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and
the Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center at the University of California,
Received: April 29, 2013
Accepted: January 7, 2014
Published: March 13, 2014
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