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Interleukin 7 Transgenic Mice Develop Chronic Colitis with Decreased Interleukin 7 Protein Accumulation in the Colonic Mucosa

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      Abstract

      We have demonstrated that intestinal epithelial cells produce interleukin 7 (IL-7), and IL-7 serves as a potent regulatory factor for proliferation of intestinal mucosal lymphocytes expressing functional IL-7 receptor. To clarify the mechanism by which locally produced IL-7 regulates the mucosal lymphocytes, we investigated IL-7 transgenic mice. Here we report that transgenic mice expressing murine IL-7 cDNA driver by the SRα promoter developed chronic colitis in concert with the expression of SRα/IL-7 transgene in the colonic mucosa. IL-7 transgenic but not littermate mice developed chronic colitis at 4–12 wk of age, with histopathological similarity to ulcerative colitis in humans. Southern blot hybridization and competitive PCR demonstrated that the expression of IL-7 messenger RNA was increased in the colonic mucosal lymphocytes but not in the colonic epithelial cells. IL-7 protein accumulation was decreased in the goblet cell–depleted colonic epithelium in the transgenic mice. Immunohistochemical and cytokine production analysis showed that lymphoid infiltrates in the lamina propria were dominated by T helper cell type 1 CD4+ T cells. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated that CD4+ intraepithelial T cells were increased, but T cell receptor γ/δ T cells and CD8α/α cells were not increased in the area of chronic inflammation. Increased IL-7 receptor expression in mucosal lymphocytes was demonstrated in the transgenic mice. These findings suggest that chronic inflammation in the colonic mucosa may be mediated by dysregulation of colonic epithelial cell–derived IL-7, and this murine model of chronic colitis may contribute to the understanding of the pathogenesis of human inflammatory bowel disease.

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      Most cited references 27

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      Interleukin-10-deficient mice develop chronic enterocolitis.

      Interleukin-10 (IL-10) affects the growth and differentiation of many hemopoietic cells in vitro; in particular, it is a potent suppressor of macrophage and T cell functions. In IL-10-deficient mice, generated by gene targeting, lymphocyte development and antibody responses are normal, but most animals are growth retarded and anemic and suffer from chronic enterocolitis. Alterations in intestine include extensive mucosal hyperplasia, inflammatory reactions, and aberrant expression of major histocompatibility complex class II molecules on epithelia. In contrast, mutants kept under specific pathogen-free conditions develop only a local inflammation limited to the proximal colon. These results indicate that the bowel inflammation in the mutants originates from uncontrolled immune responses stimulated by enteric antigens and that IL-10 is an essential immunoregulator in the intestinal tract.
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        Ulcerative colitis-like disease in mice with a disrupted interleukin-2 gene.

        Mice deficient for interleukin-2 develop normally during the first 3-4 weeks of age. However, later on they become severely compromised, and about 50% of the animals die between 4 and 9 weeks after birth. Of the remaining mice, 100% develop an inflammatory bowel disease with striking clinical and histological similarity to ulcerative colitis in humans. The alterations of the immune system are characterized by a high number of activated T and B cells, elevated immunoglobulin secretion, anti-colon antibodies, and aberrant expression of class II major histocompatibility complex molecules. The data provide evidence for a primary role of the immune system in the etiology of ulcerative colitis and strongly suggest that the disease results from an abnormal immune response to a normal antigenic stimulus.
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          Antibodies to interleukin 12 abrogate established experimental colitis in mice

          In this study, we describe a novel murine model of chronic intestinal inflammation induced by the hapten reagent 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). Rectal application of low doses of TNBS in BALB/c and SJL/J mice resulted in a chronic transmural colitis with severe diarrhea, weight loss, and rectal prolapse, an illness that mimics some characteristics of Crohn's disease in humans. The colon of TNBS-treated mice on day 7 was marked by infiltration of CD4+ T cells; furthermore, in situ polymerase chain reaction studies revealed high levels of interferon (IFN)-gamma mRNA in diseased colons. Isolated lamina propria (LP) CD4+ T cells from TNBS-treated mice stimulated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies exhibited a Th1 pattern of cytokine secretion: a 20-50-fold increase in IL-2 and IFN-gamma levels and a 5-fold decrease in IL-4 levels as compared with those of stimulated LP CD4+ T cells from control BALB/c mice. Administration of monoclonal anti-IL-12 antibodies to the TNBS-treated mice both early (at 5 d) and late (at 20 d) after induction of colitis led to a striking improvement in both the clinical and histopathological aspects of the disease and frequently abrogated the established colitis completely. Furthermore, LP CD4+ T cells isolated from anti-IL-12-treated mice failed to secrete IFN-gamma upon in vitro stimulation. In summary, the data demonstrate the pivotal role of IL-12 and IFN-gamma in a TNBS-induced murine model of chronic intestinal inflammation. Furthermore, they suggest the potential utility of anti-IL-12 antibodies in patients with Crohn's disease.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            From the [* ]Keio Cancer Center, []the Department of Internal Medicine, [§ ]the Department of Microbiology, and []the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo 160, Japan; []the Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Isehara 259-11, Japan; and the [** ]Shionogi Institute for Medical Science, Osaka 553, Japan
            Author notes

            Address correspondence to Dr. Mamoru Watanabe, Keio Cancer Center, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160, Japan. Phone: 011-81-3-3357-2778; Fax: 011-81-3-3357-2778; E-mail: mamoru@ 123456mc.med.keio.ac.jp

            Journal
            J Exp Med
            The Journal of Experimental Medicine
            The Rockefeller University Press
            0022-1007
            1540-9538
            2 February 1998
            : 187
            : 3
            : 389-402
            2212121
            9449719
            Categories
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            Articles

            Medicine

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