Biology of reproduction

Polarized Epithelial Cells Secrete Interleukin 6 Apically in the Bovine Endometrium.

PMID 25740541


Endometrial epithelial cells are the first line of defense against pathogenic bacteria infecting the uterus. Innate immune responses by these polarized epithelial cells to bacteria and tissue damage are characterized by release of the chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 8 (CXCL8) to attract immune cells from the circulation to the site of infection, where they are regulated by the cytokine interleukin (IL) 6. The present study tested the hypothesis that IL6 is predominantly secreted apically from polarized bovine endometrial epithelial cells in response to stimuli associated with bacterial infection and tissue damage. In postpartum animals, concentrations of IL6, but not of CXCL8, were higher in uterine mucus than in peripheral blood. In vitro, polarized endometrial epithelial cells only secreted IL6 apically when treated with bacteria, the pathogen-associated molecule lipopolysaccharide, or the damage-associated molecule IL1alpha, whereas CXCL8 accumulated apically and basolaterally. Furthermore, IL6 accumulated apically irrespective of whether lipopolysaccharide was applied to the apical or basolateral surface of epithelial cells. Secretion of IL6 from epithelial cells was dependent on the trans-Golgi network but was not affected by exogenous ovarian steroids or by coculture with stromal cells. However, a confluent epithelium was essential to protect underlying stromal cells against noxious challenges, including bacteria, lipopolysaccharide, IL1alpha, and a cytolysin. In summary, when a confluent endometrial epithelial cell barrier is faced with infection and damage, chemokines attract immune cells to the uterine lumen, but IL6 is solely secreted apically to ensure immune cells are only exposed to IL6 once they reach the lumen.