Multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common in western countries with diet being a potential contributing factor. Here we show that intermittent fasting (IF) ameliorated clinical course and pathology of the MS model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). IF led to increased gut bacteria richness, enrichment of the Lactobacillaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Prevotellaceae families and enhanced antioxidative microbial metabolic pathways. IF altered T cells in the gut with a reduction of IL-17 producing T cells and an increase in regulatory T cells. Fecal microbiome transplantation from mice on IF ameliorated EAE in immunized recipient mice on a normal diet, suggesting that IF effects are at least partially mediated by the gut flora. In a pilot clinical trial in MS patients, intermittent energy restriction altered blood adipokines and the gut flora resembling protective changes observed in mice. In conclusion, IF has potent immunomodulatory effects that are at least partially mediated by the gut microbiome.
Acute hepatitis A (AHA) involves severe CD8+ T cell-mediated liver injury. Here we showed during AHA, CD8+ T cells specific to unrelated viruses became activated. Hepatitis A virus (HAV)-infected cells produced IL-15 that induced T cell receptor (TCR)-independent activation of memory CD8+ T cells. TCR-independent activation of non-HAV-specific CD8+ T cells were detected in patients, as indicated by NKG2D upregulation, a marker of TCR-independent T cell activation by IL-15. CD8+ T cells derived from AHA patients exerted innate-like cytotoxicity triggered by activating receptors NKG2D and NKp30 without TCR engagement. We demonstrated that the severity of liver injury in AHA patients correlated with the activation of HAV-unrelated virus-specific CD8+ T cells and the innate-like cytolytic activity of CD8+ T cells, but not the activation of HAV-specific T cells. Thus, host injury in AHA is associated with innate-like cytotoxicity of bystander-activated CD8+ T cells, a result with implications for acute viral diseases.