ObjectiveGut homing of lymphocytes via adhesion molecules has recently emerged as new target for therapy in IBDs. We aimed to analyse the in vivo homing of effector (Teff) and regulatory (Treg) T cells to the inflamed gut via α4β7 and G protein receptor GPR15.DesignWe assessed the expression of homing receptors on T cells in peripheral blood and inflamed mucosa. We studied the migration pattern and homing of Teff and Treg cells to the inflamed gut using intravital confocal microscopy and FACS in a humanised mouse model in dextran sodium sulfate-treated NSG (NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid-Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ) mice.ResultsExpression of GPR15 and α4β7 was significantly increased on Treg rather than Teff cells in peripheral blood of patients with UC as compared with Crohn’s disease and controls. In vivo analysis in a humanised mouse model showed augmented gut homing of UC Treg cells as compared with controls. Moreover, suppression of UC (but not control) Teff and Treg cell homing was noted upon treatment with the α4β7 antibody vedolizumab. In contrast, siRNA blockade of GPR15 had only effects on homing of Teff cells but did not affect Treg homing in UC. Clinical vedolizumab treatment was associated with marked expansion of UC Treg cells in peripheral blood.Conclusionsα4β7 rather than GPR15 is crucial for increased colonic homing of UC Treg cells in vivo, while both receptors control UC Teff cell homing. Vedolizumab treatment impairs homing of UC Treg cells leading to their accumulation in peripheral blood with subsequent suppression of systemic Teff cell expansion.
Molecular mechanisms specific to colitis-associated cancers have been poorly characterized. Using comparative whole-genome expression profiling, we observed differential expression of epiregulin (EREG) in mouse models of colitis-associated, but not sporadic, colorectal cancer. Similarly, EREG expression was significantly upregulated in cohorts of patients with colitis-associated cancer. Furthermore, tumor-associated fibroblasts were identified as a major source of EREG in colitis-associated neoplasms. Functional studies showed that Ereg-deficient mice, although more prone to colitis, were strongly protected from colitis-associated tumors.
Serial endoscopic studies revealed that EREG promoted tumor growth rather than initiation. Additionally, we demonstrated that fibroblast-derived EREG requires ERK activation to induce proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and tumor development in vivo.To demonstrate the functional relevance of EREG-producing tumor-associated fibroblasts, we developed a novel system for adoptive transfer of these cells via miniendoscopic local injection. It was found that transfer of EREG-producing, but not Ereg-deficient, fibroblasts from tumors significantly augmented growth of colitis-associated neoplasms in vivo. In conclusion, our data indicate that EREG and tumor-associated fibroblasts play a crucial role in controlling tumor growth in colitisassociated neoplasms.
AEβ7 is of key relevance for gut trafficking of IBD CD8 T cells and CD4 Th9 cells in vivo and mainly retention might account for this effect. These findings indicate that blockade of αEβ7 in addition to α4β7 may be particularly effective in intestinal disorders with expansion of CD8 and Th9 cells such as IBD.
ObjectiveTo study the role of α4β7 integrin for gut homing of monocytes and to explore the biological consequences of therapeutic α4β7 inhibition with regard to intestinal wound healing.DesignWe studied the expression of homing markers on monocyte subsets in the peripheral blood and on macrophage subsets in the gut of patients with IBD and controls with flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Integrin function was addressed with dynamic adhesion assays and in vivo gut homing assays. In vivo wound healing was studied in mice deficient for or depleted of α4β7 integrin.ResultsClassical and non-classical monocytes were clearly dichotomous regarding homing marker expression including relevant expression of α4β7 integrin on human and mouse non-classical monocytes but not on classical monocytes. Monocyte-expressed α4β7 integrin was functionally important for dynamic adhesion to mucosal vascular addressin cell adhesion molecule 1 and in vivo gut homing. Impaired α4β7-dependent gut homing was associated with reduced (effect size about 20%) and delayed wound healing and suppressed perilesional presence of wound healing macrophages. Non-classical monocytes in the peripheral blood were increased in patients with IBD under clinical treatment with vedolizumab.ConclusionIn addition to reported effects on lymphocytes, anti-α4β7 therapy in IBD also targets non-classical monocytes. Impaired gut homing of such monocytes might lead to a reduction of wound healing macrophages and could potentially explain increased rates of postoperative complications in vedolizumab-treated patients, which have been observed in some studies.
The proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 seems to have an important role in the intestinal inflammation that characterizes inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) such as Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating IL-6 production in IBD. Here, we assessed the role of the transcriptional regulator IFN regulatory factor-4 (IRF4) in this process. Patients with either Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis exhibited increased IRF4 expression in lamina propria CD3 + T cells as compared with control patients. Consistent with IRF4 having a regulatory function in T cells, in a mouse model of IBD whereby colitis is induced in RAG-deficient mice by transplantation with CD4 + CD45RB hi T cells, adoptive transfer of wild-type but not IRF4-deficient T cells resulted in severe colitis. Furthermore, IRF4-deficient mice were protected from T cell-dependent chronic intestinal inflammation in trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid-and oxazolone-induced colitis. In addition, IRF4-deficient mice with induced colitis had reduced mucosal IL-6 production, and IRF4 was required for IL-6 production by mucosal CD90 + T cells, which it protected from apoptosis. Finally, the protective effect of IRF4 deficiency could be abrogated by systemic administration of either recombinant IL-6 or a combination of soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) plus IL-6 (hyper-IL-6). Taken together, our data identify IRF4 as a key regulator of mucosal IL-6 production in T cell-dependent experimental colitis and suggest that IRF4 might provide a therapeutic target for IBDs.
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