Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

LPS-induced IL-8 activation in human intestinal epithelial cells is accompanied by specific histone H3 acetylation and methylation changes

Tiziana Angrisano1, Raffaela Pero1, Silvia Peluso1, Simona Keller12, Silvana Sacchetti12, Carmelo B Bruni1, Lorenzo Chiariotti123* and Francesca Lembo13*

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare "L. Califano", Facoltà di Farmacia e Facoltà di Scienze Biotecnologiche, Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Via S. Pansini 5, Naples, 80131, Italy

2 Naples Oncogenomic Center, CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate, Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Via Comunale Margherita 482, Naples, 80145, Italy

3 Dipartimento di Chimica Farmaceutica e Tossicologica, Facoltà di Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", Via D. Montesano 47, Naples, 80131, Italy

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:172  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-172

Published: 14 June 2010



The release of LPS by bacteria stimulates both immune and specific epithelial cell types to release inflammatory mediators. It is known that LPS induces the release of IL-8 by intestinal mucosal cells. Because it is now emerging that bacteria may induce alteration of epigenetic patterns in host cells, we have investigated whether LPS-induced IL-8 activation in human intestinal epithelial cells involves changes of histone modifications and/or DNA methylation at IL-8 gene regulatory region.


RT-PCR analysis showed that IL-8 mRNA levels rapidly increase after exposure of HT-29 cells to LPS. DNA demethylating agents had no effects on IL-8 expression, suggesting that DNA methylation was not involved in IL-8 gene regulation. Consistently we found that 5 CpG sites located around IL-8 transcription start site (-83, -7, +73, +119, +191) were unmethylated on both lower and upper strand either in LPS treated or in untreated HT-29 cells, as well as in normal intestinal mucosa.

Conversely, pretreatment of HT-29 cells with deacetylase inhibitors strengthened the LPS-mediated IL-8 activation. Inhibitors of histone deacetylases could induce IL-8 mRNA expression also in the absence of LPS, suggesting that chromatin modifications could be involved in IL-8 gene regulation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed that, concurrently with IL-8 activation, transient specific changes in H3 acetylation and H3K4, H3K9 and H3K27 methylation occurred at IL-8 gene promoter during LPS stimulation. Changes of H3-acetyl, H3K4me2 and H3K9me2 levels occurred early, transiently and corresponded to transcriptional activity, while changes of H3K27me3 levels at IL-8 gene occurred later and were long lasting.


The results showed that specific chromatin modifications occurring at IL-8 gene, including histone H3 acetylation and methylation, mark LPS-mediated IL-8 activation in intestinal epithelial cells while it is unlikely that DNA methylation of IL-8 promoter is directly involved in IL-8 gene regulation in these cells.