Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells Coordinate Damage Response in the Stomach

Published:September 03, 2020DOI:

      Background & Aims

      Severe injury to the lining of the stomach leads to changes in the epithelium (reprogramming) that protect and promote repair of the tissue, including development of spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia (SPEM) and tuft and foveolar cell hyperplasia. Acute gastric damage elicits a type-2 inflammatory response that includes production of type-2 cytokines and infiltration by eosinophils and alternatively activated macrophages. Stomachs of mice that lack interleukin 33 (IL33) or interleukin 13 (IL13) did not undergo epithelial reprogramming after drug-induced injury. We investigated the role of group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) in gastric epithelial repair.


      Acute gastric injury was induced in C57BL/6J mice (wild-type and RAG1 knockout) by administration of L635. We isolated ILC2s by flow cytometry from stomachs of mice that were and were not given L635 and performed single-cell RNA sequencing. ILC2s were depleted from wild-type and RAG1-knockout mice by administration of anti-CD90.2. We assessed gastric cell lineages, markers of metaplasia, inflammation, and proliferation. Gastric tissue microarrays from patients with gastric adenocarcinoma were analyzed by immunostaining.


      There was a significant increase in the number of GATA3-positive ILC2s in stomach tissues from wild-type mice after L635-induced damage, but not in stomach tissues from IL33-knockout mice. We characterized a marker signature of gastric mucosal ILC2s and identified a transcription profile of metaplasia-associated ILC2s, which included changes in expression of Il5, Il13, Csf2, Pd1, and Ramp3; these changes were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemistry. Depletion of ILC2s from mice blocked development of metaplasia after L635-induced injury in wild-type and RAG1-knockout mice and prevented foveolar and tuft cell hyperplasia and infiltration or activation of macrophages after injury. Numbers of ILC2s were increased in stomach tissues from patients with SPEM compared with patients with normal corpus mucosa.


      In analyses of stomach tissues from mice with gastric tissue damage and patients with SPEM, we found evidence of type 2 inflammation and increased numbers of ILC2s. Our results suggest that ILC2s coordinate the metaplastic response to severe gastric injury.

      Graphical abstract


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      DMEM (Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium), FACS (fluorescence-activated cell sorter), GIF (gastric intrinsic factor), Ig (immunoglobulin), IL (interleukin), ILCs (innate lymphoid cells), PBS (phosphate-buffered saline), SPEM (spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia), TMA (tissue microarrays)
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