IL-27 controls a diverse range of immune responses in many disease settings. Here, we identify intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) as one of the major IL-27 cellular sources in the gut-associated tissue. Unlike IL-27 secreted by innate immune cells, gut epithelial IL-27 is dispensable for T-bet+ regulatory T cell (T reg cell) differentiation or IL-10 induction. Rather, IEC-derived IL-27 specifically promotes a distinct CD8αα+CD4+ intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL) population that acquires their functional differentiation at the intestinal epithelium. Loss of IL-27 in IECs leads to a selective defect in CD8αα+CD4+ IELs over time. Consequently, mice with IEC-specific IL-27 ablation exhibited elevated pathogen burden during parasitic infection, and this could be rescued by transfer of exogenous CD8αα+CD4+ IELs. Collectively, our data reveal that in addition to its known regulatory properties in preventing immune hyperactivity, gut epithelial IL-27 confers barrier immunity by inducing a specific IEL subset and further suggest that IL-27 produced by different cell types plays distinct roles in maintaining intestinal homeostasis.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at
You do not currently have access to this content.