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1.  Analysis of Germline GLI1 Variation Implicates Hedgehog Signalling in the Regulation of Intestinal Inflammatory Pathways 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e239.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) are polygenic chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) of high prevalence that are associated with considerable morbidity. The hedgehog (HH) signalling pathway, which includes the transcription factor glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (GLI1), plays vital roles in gastrointestinal tract development, homeostasis, and malignancy. We identified a germline variation in GLI1 (within the IBD2 linkage region, 12q13) in patients with IBD. Since this IBD-associated variant encodes a GLI1 protein with reduced function and our expression studies demonstrated down-regulation of the HH response in IBD, we tested whether mice with reduced Gli1 activity demonstrate increased susceptibility to chemically induced colitis.
Methods and Findings
Using a gene-wide haplotype-tagging approach, germline GLI1 variation was examined in three independent populations of IBD patients and healthy controls from Northern Europe (Scotland, England, and Sweden) totalling over 5,000 individuals. On log-likelihood analysis, GLI1 was associated with IBD, predominantly UC, in Scotland and England (p < 0.0001). A nonsynonymous SNP (rs2228226C→G), in exon 12 of GLI1 (Q1100E) was strongly implicated, with pooled odds ratio of 1.194 (confidence interval = 1.09–1.31, p = 0.0002). GLI1 variants were tested in vitro for transcriptional activity in luciferase assays. Q1100E falls within a conserved motif near the C terminus of GLI1; the variant GLI protein exhibited reduced transactivation function in vitro. In complementary expression studies, we noted the colonic HH response, including GLI1, patched (PTCH), and hedgehog-interacting protein (HHIP), to be down-regulated in patients with UC. Finally, Gli1+/lacZ mice were tested for susceptibility to dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced colitis. Clinical response, histology, and expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were recorded. Gli1+/lacZ mice rapidly developed severe intestinal inflammation, with considerable morbidity and mortality compared with wild type. Local myeloid cells were shown to be direct targets of HH signals and cytokine expression studies revealed robust up-regulation of IL-12, IL-17, and IL-23 in this model.
HH signalling through GLI1 is required for appropriate modulation of the intestinal response to acute inflammatory challenge. Reduced GLI1 function predisposes to a heightened myeloid response to inflammatory stimuli, potentially leading to IBD.
Charlie Lees and colleagues identify a reduced-function variant of the hedgehog signaling pathway protein GLI1 that associates with inflammatory bowel disease, and investigate its role in a mouse model of colitis.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are common disorders in which parts of the digestive tract become repeatedly or continuously inflamed. The immune system normally protects the body from entities it identifies as foreign, but in IBD it mistakenly recognizes gut tissue, and immune system cells accumulate in the lining of the bowel, which causes inflammation. There are two main types of IBD—Crohn's disease (CD), which mainly affects the small bowel, and ulcerative colitis (UC), which affects only the large bowel (colon). Both types tend to run in families and usually develop between the ages of 15 and 35 years. Symptoms—including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and unexplained weight loss—can be mild or severe and the disease can develop slowly or suddenly. There is no cure for IBD except surgical removal of the affected part of the digestive tract. However, drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) or that specifically inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines” (proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation) are often helpful in reducing symptoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Why the immune system becomes unbalanced in people with IBD is not clear but it is known that IBD is “polygenic,” that is, a disease caused by the combined actions of two or more inherited gene variants. Although UC and CD are clinically different diseases, they share several “susceptibility loci” (regions of the genome that harbor disease-associated gene variants), including the IBD2 locus. The identification of the actual gene within the IBD2 locus that is altered in people who are susceptible to IBD might provide new insights into what causes the immune imbalance in IBD and into how to treat the disease. In this study, the researchers test the hypothesis that a variant of a gene called GLI1, which lies in the IBD2 locus, is associated with IBD susceptibility. GLI1 encodes a transcription factor (a protein that regulates the production of proteins) that is a central component in the signaling pathway named for a protein called “hedgehog.” This pathway is involved in the development of many organs, including the digestive tract.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called gene-wide haplotype tagging to look for inherited GLl1 variants in patients with IBD and in healthy people living in Scotland, England, and Sweden. A specific variant of the GLI1 gene, resulting in alteration of a single amino acid component of the GLI1 protein, was associated with IBD (particularly with UC) in both Scotland and England; the same variant was weakly associated with IBD in the Swedish population. The variant GLI1 protein was only half as active as the normal protein in a laboratory assay, and, consistent with this result, the expression of several components of the hedgehog signaling pathway was lower in colon samples taken from patients with UC than in samples taken from healthy individuals. Finally, Gli1+/lacZ mice (which express half the normal amount of Gli1 protein) developed severe intestinal inflammation more rapidly than wild-type mice when they were treated with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), a chemical that induces acute (sudden) colitis. Cellular analysis revealed that myeloid cells (cells that sense and modify the inflammatory response) are direct targets of the hedgehog signaling pathway. Furthermore, the expression of several pro-inflammatory cytokines (in particular, one called IL-23) increased more markedly in the Gli1+/lacZ mice than in the wild-type mice after DSS treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the normal response of the mammalian gut to challenge with inflammatory substances involves hedgehog signaling through GLI1 and that reduced GLI1 function might be one trigger for IBD. More specifically, the human genetic studies identify a GLI1 variant that is associated with IBD (at least in certain north European populations), the laboratory experiments indicate that this GLI1 variant encodes a protein with reduced activity, and the animal studies show that a similar reduction in Gli1 activity is sufficient to heighten intestinal inflammatory responses. Although this last result needs to be confirmed in animal models of chronic colitis that more closely resemble human IBD, these findings suggest that drugs that modulate hedgehog signaling might be useful in the treatment of IBD.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other information Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
The UK National Health Service Direct Encyclopedia also provides information on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis
Wikipedia has a page on the hedgehog signaling pathway (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2596854  PMID: 19071955
2.  Longitudinal analysis of inflammation and microbiota dynamics in a model of mild chronic dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice 
AIM: To characterize longitudinally the inflammation and the gut microbiota dynamics in a mouse model of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis.
METHODS: In animal models, the most common method used to trigger colitis is based on the oral administration of the sulfated polysaccharides DSS. The murine DSS colitis model has been widely adopted to induce severe acute, chronic or semi-chronic colitis, and has been validated as an important model for the translation of mice data to human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it is now clear that models characterized by mild intestinal damage are more accurate for studying the effects of therapeutic agents. For this reason, we have developed a murine model of mild colitis to study longitudinally the inflammation and microbiota dynamics during the intestinal repair processes, and to obtain data suitable to support the recovery of gut microbiota-host homeostasis.
RESULTS: All plasma cytokines evaluated, except IL-17, began to increase (P < 0.05), after 7 d of DSS administration. IL-17 only began to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal. IL-1β and IL-17 continue to increase during the recovery phase, even when clinical signs of colitis had disappeared. IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-γ reached their maxima 4 d after DSS withdrawal and decreased during the late recovery phase. TNFα reached a peak (a three- fold increase, P < 0.05), after which it slightly decreased, only to increase again close to the end of the recovery phase. DSS administration induced profound and rapid changes in the mice gut microbiota. After 3 d of DSS administration, we observed a major reduction in Bacteroidetes/Prevotella and a corresponding increase in Bacillaceae, with respect to control mice. In particular, Bacteroidetes/Prevotella decreased from a relative abundance of 59.42%-33.05%, while Bacillaceae showed a concomitant increase from 2.77% to 10.52%. Gut microbiota rapidly shifted toward a healthy profile during the recovery phase and returned normal 4 d after DSS withdrawal. Cyclooxygenase 2 expression started to increase 4 d after DSS withdrawal (P < 0.05), when dysbiosis had recovered, and continued to increase during the recovery phase. Taken together, these data indicated that a chronic phase of intestinal inflammation, characterized by the absence of dysbiosis, could be obtained in mice using a single DSS cycle.
CONCLUSION: Dysbiosis contributes to the local and systemic inflammation that occurs in the DSS model of colitis; however, chronic bowel inflammation is maintained even after recovery from dysbiosis.
PMCID: PMC3934475  PMID: 24587679
Colitis, Dysbiosis; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammation; Cyclooxygenase 2
3.  Expression of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ in Macrophage Suppresses Experimentally-Induced Colitis 
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) has been shown to be a protective transcription factor in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). PPARγ is expressed in several different cell types, and mice with a targeted disruption of the PPARγ gene in intestinal epithelial cells demonstrated increased susceptibility to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced IBD. However, the highly selective PPARγ ligand rosiglitazone decreased the severity of DSS-induced colitis and suppressed cytokine production in both PPARγ intestinal specific null mice and wild-type littermates. Therefore the role of PPARγ in different tissues and their contribution to the pathogenesis of IBD still remain unclear.
Mice with a targeted disruption of PPARγ in macrophages (PPARγΔMφ) and wild-type littermates (PPARγF/F) were administered 2.5% DSS in drinking water to induce IBD. Typical clinical symptoms were evaluated on a daily basis and proinflammatory cytokine analysis was performed.
PPARγΔMφ mice displayed an increased susceptibility to DSS-induced colitis in comparison to wild-type littermates, as defined by body weight loss, diarrhea, rectal bleeding score, colon length and histology. Interleukin (IL)-1β, CCR2, MCP-1 and iNOS mRNA levels in colons of PPARγΔMφ mice treated with DSS were higher than in similarly treated PPARγF/F mice.
The present study has identified a novel protective role for macrophage PPARγ in the DSS-induced IBD model. The data suggest that PPARγ regulates recruitment of macrophages to inflammatory foci in the colon.
PMCID: PMC1796914  PMID: 17095756
CC chemokine receptor 2; Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor; Macrophages; Colitis
4.  Implication of intestinal VDR deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1830(1):2118-2128.
To investigate the function of the intestinal Vdr gene in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in conjunction with the discovery of possible metabolic markers for IBD using intestine-specific Vdr knockout mice.
VdrΔIEpC mice were generated, phenotyped and treated with a time-course of 3% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to induce colitis. Colitis was diagnosed by evaluating clinical symptoms and intestinal histopathology. Gene expression analysis was carried out. In addition, metabolic markers of IBD were explored by metabolomics.
VdrΔIEpC mice showed abnormal body size, colon structures and feces color. Calcium, collagen, and intestinal proliferation-related gene expression were all decreased, and serum alkaline phosphatase was highly increased. In the acute model which was treated with 3% DSS for six days, VdrΔIEpC mice showed a high score of IBD symptoms; enlarged mucosal layer and damaged muscularis layer. In the recovery experiment model, where mice were treated with 3% DSS for four days and water for three days, VdrΔIEpC mice showed a high score of IBD symptoms; severe damage of mucosal layer and increased expression of genes encoding proinflammatory cytokines. Feces metabolomics revealed decreased concentrations of taurine, taurocholic acid, taurodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid in VdrΔIEpC mice.
Disruption of the intestinal Vdr gene showed phenotypical changes that may exacerbate IBD. These results suggest that VDR may play an important role in IBD.
VDR function has been implicated in IBD. This is of value for understanding the etiology of IBD and for development of diagnostic biomarkers for IBD.
PMCID: PMC3508150  PMID: 23041070
Vitamin D receptor (VDR); inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); bile acids
5.  Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Clinical and Molecular Parameters in Dextran Sodium Sulfate Induced Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e6073.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including mainly ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD), are inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract caused by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Murine colitis model induced by Dextran Sulfate Sodium (DSS) is an animal model of IBD that is commonly used to address the pathogenesis of IBD as well as to test efficacy of therapies. In this study we systematically analyzed clinical parameters, histological changes, intestinal barrier properties and cytokine profile during the colitic and recovery phase.
C57BL/6 mice were administered with 3.5% of DSS in drinking water for various times. Clinical and histological features were determined using standard criteria. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, transepithelial permeability and proinflammatory mediators were determined in whole colon or proximal and distal parts of colon.
As expected after administration of DSS, mice manifest loss of body weight, shortening of colon length and bloody feces. Histological manifestations included shortening and loss of crypts, infiltration of lymphocytes and neutrophil, symptoms attenuated after DSS withdrawal. The MPO value, as inflammation indicator, also increases significantly at all periods of DSS treatment, and even after DSS withdrawal, it still held at very high levels. Trans-mucosal permeability increased during DSS treatment, but recovered to almost control level after DSS withdrawal. The production of proinflammatory mediators by colonic mucosa were enhanced during DSS treatment, and then recovered to pre-treated level after DSS withdrawal. Finally, enhanced expression of proinflammatory mediators also revealed a different profile feature in proximal and distal parts of the colon.
Experimental colitis induced by DSS is a good animal model to study the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and intervention against IBD, especially UC.
PMCID: PMC2698136  PMID: 19562033
6.  Comparative efficacies of 2 cysteine prodrugs and a glutathione delivery agent in a colitis model 
Oxidant-mediated injury plays an important role in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Recently, antioxidants were shown to modulate colitis in mice. In this study, the protective effects of L-cysteine and glutathione (GSH) prodrugs are further evaluated against progression of colitis in a murine model. ICR mice were fed compounds incorporated into chow as follows: Group (A) received chow supplemented with vehicle. Group (B) was provided 2-(RS)-n-propylthiazolidine-4(R)-carboxylic-acid (PTCA), a cysteine prodrug. Group (C) received D-ribose-L-cysteine (RibCys), another cysteine prodrug that releases L-cysteine. Group (D) was fed L-cysteine-glutathione mixed sulfide (CySSG), a ubiquitous GSH derivative present in mammalian cells. After 3 days, the animals were further provided with normal drinking water or water supplemented with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS). Mice administered DSS developed severe colitis and suffered weight loss. Colonic lesions significantly improved in animals treated with PTCA and RibCys and, to a lesser extent, with CySSG therapy. Hepatic GSH levels were depleted in colitis animals (control vs DSS, P < 0.001), and normalized with prodrug therapies (control vs treatments, P > 0.05). Protein expressions of serum amyloid A and inflammatory cytokines [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), osteopontin (OPN)] were significantly increased in colitis animals and improved with therapies. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analyses showed significant upregulation of the macrophage-specific markers, COX-2 and CD68, which suggests macrophage activation and infiltration in the colonic lamina propria in colitis animals. These abnormalities were attenuated in prodrug-treated mice. In conclusion, these data strongly support the novel action of the PTCA against colitis, which further supports a possible therapeutic application for IBD patients.
PMCID: PMC1991291  PMID: 17656332
7.  Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase Has Beneficial Effects in Mouse Models of Chronic Colitis 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2011;17(2):532-542.
The brush border enzyme intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) functions as a gut mucosal defense factor and is protective against dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute injury in rats. The present study evaluated the potential therapeutic role for orally administered calf IAP (cIAP) in two independent mouse models of chronic colitis: (1) DSS-induced chronic colitis, and (2) chronic spontaneous colitis in Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein (WASP) deficient (knockout) mice that is accelerated by irradiation.
The wild-type (WT) and IAP knockout (IAP-KO) mice received 4 cycles of 2% DSS ad libitum for 7 days. Each cycle was followed by a 7-day DSS-free interval during which mice received either cIAP or vehicle in the drinking water. The WASP-KO mice received either vehicle or cIAP for 6 weeks beginning on the day of irradiation.
Microscopic colitis scores of DSS-treated IAP-KO mice were higher than DSS-treated WT mice (52 ± 3.8 vs. 28.8 ± 6.6, respectively, P < 0.0001). cIAP treatment attenuated the disease in both groups (KO = 30.7 ± 6.01, WT = 18.7 ± 5.0, P < 0.05). In irradiated WASP-KO mice cIAP also attenuated colitis compared to control groups (3.3 ± 0.52 vs. 6.2 ± 0.34, respectively, P < 0.001). Tissue myeloperoxidase activity and pro-inflammatory cytokines were significantly decreased by cIAP treatment.
Endogenous IAP appears to play a role in protecting the host against chronic colitis. Orally administered cIAP exerts a protective effect in two independent mouse models of chronic colitis and may represent a novel therapy for human IBD.
PMCID: PMC3154118  PMID: 20645323
DSS-induced chronic colitis; WASP-KO and spontaneous chronic colitis; inflammatory bowel disease; gut mucosal defense; lipopolysaccharides
8.  L-arginine Supplementation Improves Responses to Injury and Inflammation in Dextran Sulfate Sodium Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33546.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consisting of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), results in substantial morbidity and is difficult to treat. New strategies for adjunct therapies are needed. One candidate is the semi-essential amino acid, L-arginine (L-Arg), a complementary medicine purported to be an enhancer of immunity and vitality in the lay media. Using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) as a murine colonic injury and repair model with similarities to human UC, we assessed the effect of L-Arg, as DSS induced increases in colonic expression of the y+ cationic amino acid transporter 2 (CAT2) and L-Arg uptake. L-Arg supplementation improved the clinical parameters of survival, body weight loss, and colon weight, and reduced colonic permeability and the number of myeloperoxidase-positive neutrophils in DSS colitis. Luminex-based multi-analyte profiling demonstrated that there was a marked reduction in proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression with L-Arg treatment. Genomic analysis by microarray demonstrated that DSS-treated mice supplemented with L-Arg clustered more closely with mice not exposed to DSS than to those receiving DSS alone, and revealed that multiple genes that were upregulated or downregulated with DSS alone exhibited normalization of expression with L-Arg supplementation. Additionally, L-Arg treatment of mice with DSS colitis resulted in increased ex vivo migration of colonic epithelial cells, suggestive of increased capacity for wound repair. Because CAT2 induction was sustained during L-Arg treatment and inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS) requires uptake of L-Arg for generation of NO, we tested the effect of L-Arg in iNOS−/− mice and found that its benefits in DSS colitis were eliminated. These preclinical studies indicate that L-Arg supplementation could be a potential therapy for IBD, and that one mechanism of action may be functional enhancement of iNOS activity.
PMCID: PMC3299802  PMID: 22428068
9.  Absence of bacterially induced RELMβ reduces injury in the dextran sodium sulfate model of colitis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(11):2914-2923.
Although inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the result of a dysregulated immune response to commensal gut bacteria in genetically predisposed individuals, the mechanism(s) by which bacteria lead to the development of IBD are unknown. Interestingly, deletion of intestinal goblet cells protects against intestinal injury, suggesting that this epithelial cell lineage may produce molecules that exacerbate IBD. We previously reported that resistin-like molecule β (RELMβ; also known as FIZZ2) is an intestinal goblet cell–specific protein that is induced upon bacterial colonization whereupon it is expressed in the ileum and colon, regions of the gut most often involved in IBD. Herein, we show that disruption of this gene reduces the severity of colitis in the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) model of murine colonic injury. Although RELMβ does not alter colonic epithelial proliferation or barrier function, we show that recombinant protein activates macrophages to produce TNF-α both in vitro and in vivo. RELMβ expression is also strongly induced in the terminal ileum of the SAMP1/Fc model of IBD. These results suggest a model whereby the loss of epithelial barrier function by DSS results in the activation of the innate mucosal response by RELMβ located in the lumen, supporting the hypothesis that this protein is a link among goblet cells, commensal bacteria, and the pathogenesis of IBD.
PMCID: PMC1590268  PMID: 17024245
10.  Campylobacter jejuni Disrupts Protective Toll-Like Receptor 9 Signaling in Colonic Epithelial Cells and Increases the Severity of Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(4):1563-1571.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation associated with a dysregulated immune response to commensal bacteria in susceptible individuals. The relapse of IBD may occur following an infection with Campylobacter jejuni. Apical epithelial Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) activation by bacterial DNA is reported to maintain colonic homeostasis. We investigated whether a prior C. jejuni infection disrupts epithelial TLR9 signaling and increases the severity of disease in a model of mild dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) colitis in mice. In a further attempt to identify mechanisms, T84 monolayers were treated with C. jejuni followed by a TLR9 agonist. Transepithelial resistance (TER) and dextran flux across confluent monolayers were monitored. Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and flow cytometry were used to examine TLR9 expression. Mice colonized by C. jejuni lacked any detectable pathology; however, in response to low levels of DSS, mice previously exposed to C. jejuni exhibited significantly reduced weight gain and increased occult blood and histological damage scores. Infected mice treated with DSS also demonstrated a significant reduction in levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-25. In vitro studies indicated that apical application of a TLR9 agonist enhances intestinal epithelial barrier function and that this response is lost in C. jejuni-infected monolayers. Furthermore, infected cells secreted significantly more CXCL8 following the basolateral application of a TLR9 agonist. Surface TLR9 expression was reduced in C. jejuni-infected monolayers subsequently exposed to a TLR9 agonist. In conclusion, infection by C. jejuni disrupts TLR9-induced reinforcement of the intestinal epithelial barrier, and colonization by C. jejuni increases the severity of mild DSS colitis.
PMCID: PMC3318425  PMID: 22311925
11.  Aberrant Mucin Assembly in Mice Causes Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Spontaneous Inflammation Resembling Ulcerative Colitis 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e54.
MUC2 mucin produced by intestinal goblet cells is the major component of the intestinal mucus barrier. The inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis is characterized by depleted goblet cells and a reduced mucus layer, but the aetiology remains obscure. In this study we used random mutagenesis to produce two murine models of inflammatory bowel disease, characterised the basis and nature of the inflammation in these mice, and compared the pathology with human ulcerative colitis.
Methods and Findings
By murine N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis we identified two distinct noncomplementing missense mutations in Muc2 causing an ulcerative colitis-like phenotype. 100% of mice of both strains developed mild spontaneous distal intestinal inflammation by 6 wk (histological colitis scores versus wild-type mice, p < 0.01) and chronic diarrhoea. Monitoring over 300 mice of each strain demonstrated that 25% and 40% of each strain, respectively, developed severe clinical signs of colitis by age 1 y. Mutant mice showed aberrant Muc2 biosynthesis, less stored mucin in goblet cells, a diminished mucus barrier, and increased susceptibility to colitis induced by a luminal toxin. Enhanced local production of IL-1β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ was seen in the distal colon, and intestinal permeability increased 2-fold. The number of leukocytes within mesenteric lymph nodes increased 5-fold and leukocytes cultured in vitro produced more Th1 and Th2 cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-13). This pathology was accompanied by accumulation of the Muc2 precursor and ultrastructural and biochemical evidence of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in goblet cells, activation of the unfolded protein response, and altered intestinal expression of genes involved in ER stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and wound repair. Expression of mutated Muc2 oligomerisation domains in vitro demonstrated that aberrant Muc2 oligomerisation underlies the ER stress. In human ulcerative colitis we demonstrate similar accumulation of nonglycosylated MUC2 precursor in goblet cells together with ultrastructural and biochemical evidence of ER stress even in noninflamed intestinal tissue. Although our study demonstrates that mucin misfolding and ER stress initiate colitis in mice, it does not ascertain the genetic or environmental drivers of ER stress in human colitis.
Characterisation of the mouse models we created and comparison with human disease suggest that ER stress-related mucin depletion could be a fundamental component of the pathogenesis of human colitis and that clinical studies combining genetics, ER stress-related pathology and relevant environmental epidemiology are warranted.
Michael McGuckin and colleagues identify two mutations that cause aberrant mucin oligomerization in mice. The resulting phenotype, including endoplasmic reticulum stress, resembles clinical and pathologic features of human ulcerative colitis.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are common disorders in which parts of the digestive tract become inflamed. The two main types of IBD are Crohn's disease, which mainly affects the small bowel, and ulcerative colitis (UC), which mainly affects the large bowel (colon). Both types tend to run in families and usually develop between 15 and 35 years old. Their symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and unintentional weight loss. These symptoms can vary in severity, can be chronic (persistent) or intermittent, and may start gradually or suddenly. There is no cure for IBD (except removal of the affected part of the digestive tract), but drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) or that inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines” (proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation) can sometimes help.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the clinical and pathological (disease-associated) features of Crohn's disease and UC are somewhat different, both disorders are probably caused by an immune system imbalance. Normally, the immune system protects the body from potentially harmful microbes in the gut but does not react to the many harmless bacteria that live there or to the food that passes along the digestive tract. In IBD, the immune system becomes overactive for unknown reasons, and lymphocytes (immune system cells) accumulate in the lining of the bowel and cause inflammation. In this study, the researchers use a technique called random mutagenesis (the random introduction of small changes, called mutations, into the genes of an organism using a chemical that damages DNA) to develop two mouse models that resemble human UC and that throw new light on to how this disorder develops.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers establish two mutant mouse strains—Winnie and Eeyore mice—that develop mild spontaneous inflammation of the colon and chronic diarrhea and that have more proinflammatory cytokines and more lymphocytes in their colons than normal mice. 25% and 40% of the Winnie and Eeyore mice, respectively, have severe clinical signs of colitis by 1 year of age. Both strains have a mutation in the Muc2 gene, which codes for MUC2 mucin, the main protein in mucus. This viscous substance (which coats the inside of the intestine) is produced by and stored in intestinal “goblet” cells. Mucus helps to maintain the intestine's immunological balance but is depleted in UC. The researchers show that the manufacture and assembly of Muc2 molecules is abnormal in Winnie and Eeyore mice, that less mucin is stored in their goblet cells than in normal mice, and that their intestinal mucus barrier is reduced. In addition, an incompletely assembled version of the molecule, called Muc2 precursor, accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER; the cellular apparatus that prepares newly manufactured proteins for release) of goblet cells, leading to overload with abnormal protein and causing a state of cellular distress known as the “ER stress response.” Finally, the researchers report that MUC2 precursor also accumulates in the goblet cells of people with UC and that even the noninflamed intestinal tissue of these patients shows signs of ER stress.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that mucin abnormalities and ER stress can initiate colitis in mice. Results from animal studies do not always reflect what happens in people, but these findings, together with those from the small study in humans, suggest that ER stress-related mucin depletion could be a component in the development of human colitis. The results do not identify the genetic changes and/or environmental factors that might trigger ER stress in human colitis, but suggest that once initiated, ER stress might interfere with MUC2 production, which would lead to a diminished mucus barrier, expose the lining of the intestine to more toxins and foreign substances, and trigger local mucosal inflammation. The release of inflammatory cytokines would then damage the intestine's lining and exacerbate ER stress, thus setting up a cycle of intestinal damage and inflammation. Clinical studies to look for genetic changes and environmental factors capable of triggering ER stress and for ER-stress related changes in human UC should now be undertaken to test this hypothesis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Information and support for patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their caregivers is provided by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and by the UK National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease
Wikipedia has pages on mucins and on mucus (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2270292  PMID: 18318598
12.  Protective role of 1,25(OH)2vitamin D3 in the mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption in DSS-induced acute colitis in mice 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:57.
Intestinal hyper-permeability plays a critical role in the etiopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by affecting the penetration of pathogens, toxic compounds and macromolecules. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], the active form of vitamin D, has been shown to be an important regulator of IBD and recent epidemiology suggests that patients with IBD have an impaired vitamin D status. The purpose of this study is to investigate the possible protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute colitis model.
We used DSS-induced acute colitis model to investigate the protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier integrity. Severity of colitis was evaluated by disease activity index (DAI), body weight (BW) change, colon length, histology, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and proinflammatory cytokine production including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). In vitro the protective role of 1,25(OH)2D3 was assessed by incubating Caco-2 cells with or without DSS and measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran (FITC-D). The intestinal permeability was analyzed by FITC-D, bacterial translocation and measurement of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Ultrastructural features of the colon tissue and Caco-2 cell monolayer were observed by electron microscopy. Expressions of tight junction (TJ) proteins in the colon mucosa and Caco-2 cells were detected by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, Western blot and real-time fluorescent quantitative PCR, respectively.
DSS-induced acute colitis model was characterized by a reduced BW, AUC of BW, serum calcium, higher DAI, AUC of DAI, shortened colon length, elevated MPO activity, worsened histologic inflammation, increased mononuclear cell numbers in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) and colonic lamina propria (LP), and enhanced proteins and mRNA levels of TNF-α and IFN-γ. 1,25(OH)2D3 markedly increased expressions of TJ proteins and mRNA and decreased the FITC-D permeability and the level of LPS. Furthermore, 1,25(OH)2D3 abrogated bacterial translocation to MLNs and ameliorated ultrastructural features of the colon epithelium by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In vitro, 1,25(OH)2D3 increased TEER, TJ proteins and mRNA expressions, decreased the FITC-D permeability, and preserved structural integrity of the TJ in Caco-2 cells.
1,25(OH)2D3 may play a protective role in mucosal barrier homeostasis by maintaining the integrity of junction complexes and in healing capacity of the colon epithelium. 1,25(OH)2D3 may represent an attractive and novel therapeutic agent for the adjuvant therapy of IBD.
PMCID: PMC3464614  PMID: 22647055
Barrier protection function; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammatory bowel disease; Tight junction; 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3
13.  Milk Fat Globule–EGF Factor 8 Is a Critical Protein for Healing of Dextran Sodium Sulfate–Induced Acute Colitis in Mice 
Molecular Medicine  2011;17(5-6):502-507.
Milk fat globule–EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) has been shown to play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and to accelerate healing of the mucosa in septic mice. Herein, we (a) analyzed the expression of MFG-E8 in the gut of wild-type (WT) C57BL/6 (MFG-E8+/+) mice with and without dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis, (b) characterized the pathological changes in intestinal mucosa of MFG-E8+/+ and MFG-E8−/− mice with DSS-induced colitis and (c) examined the therapeutic role of MFG-E8 in inflammatory bowel disease by using DSS-induced colitis model. Our data documented that there was an increase in colonic and rectal MFG-E8 expression in MFG-E8+/+ mice during the development of DSS colitis. MFG-E8 levels in both tissues decreased to below baseline during the recovery phase in mice with colitis. Changes in MFG-E8 gene expression correlated to the levels of inflammatory response and crypt-epithelial injury in both colonic and rectal mucosa in MFG-E8+/+ mice. MFG-E8−/−mice developed more severe crypt-epithelial injury than MFG-E8+/+ mice during exposure to DSS with delayed healing of intestinal epithelium during the recovery phase of DSS colitis. Administration of MFG-E8 during the recovery phase ameliorated colitis and promoted mucosal repair in both MFG-E8−/− and MFG-E8+/+ mice, indicating that lack of MFG-E8 causes increased susceptibility to colitis and delayed mucosal healing. These data suggest that MGF-E8 is an essential protective factor for gut epithelial homeostasis, and exogenous administration of MFG-E8 may represent a novel therapeutic target in inflammatory bowel disease.
PMCID: PMC3105146  PMID: 21308148
14.  Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α in the intestinal epithelial cells protects against inflammatory bowel disease 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2008;14(7):908-920.
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α; NR2A1) is an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily expressed in liver and intestine. While HNF4α expression is critical for liver function, its role in the gut and in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is unknown.
Human intestinal biopsies from control and IBD patients were examined for expression of mRNAs encoding HNF4α and other nuclear receptors. An intestine-specific HNF4α null mouse line (Hnf4αΔIEpC) was generated using an Hnf4α-floxed allele and villin-Cre transgene. These mice and their control floxed counterparts (Hnf4αF/F), were subjected to a dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced IBD colitis protocol and their clinical symptoms and gene expression patterns determined.
In human intestinal biopsies, HNF4α was significantly decreased in intestinal tissues from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. HNF4α expression was also suppressed in the intestine of DSS-treated mice. In Hnf4αΔIEpC mice, disruption of HNF4α expression was observed in the epithelial cells throughout intestine. In the DSS-induced colitis model, Hnf4αΔIEpC mice showed markedly more severe changes in clinical symptoms and pathologies associated with IBD including loss of body weight, colon length, and histological morphology, as compared with Hnf4αF/F mice. Furthermore the Hnf4αΔIEpC mice demonstrate a significant alteration of mucin associated genes and increase intestinal permeability, which may play an important role in the increased susceptibility to acute colitis following an inflammatory insult.
While HNF4α does not have a major role in normal function of the intestine, it protects the gut against DSS-induced colitis.
PMCID: PMC2435391  PMID: 18338782
15.  Dextran Sodium Sulfate (DSS) Induces Colitis in Mice by Forming Nano-Lipocomplexes with Medium-Chain-Length Fatty Acids in the Colon 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32084.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), primarily ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, are inflammatory disorders caused by multiple factors. Research on IBD has often used the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis mouse model. DSS induces in vivo but not in vitro intestinal inflammation. In addition, no DSS-associated molecule (free glucose, sodium sulfate solution, free dextran) induces in vitro or in vivo intestinal inflammation. We find that DSS but not dextran associated molecules established linkages with medium-chain-length fatty acids (MCFAs), such as dodecanoate, that are present in the colonic lumen. DSS complexed to MCFAs forms nanometer-sized vesicles ∼200 nm in diameter that can fuse with colonocyte membranes. The arrival of nanometer-sized DSS/MCFA vesicles in the cytoplasm may activate intestinal inflammatory signaling pathways. We also show that the inflammatory activity of DSS is mediated by the dextran moieties. The deleterious effect of DSS is localized principally in the distal colon, therefore it will be important to chemically modify DSS to develop materials beneficial to the colon without affecting colon-targeting specificity.
PMCID: PMC3302894  PMID: 22427817
16.  Extracellular Vesicles Derived from Gut Microbiota, Especially Akkermansia muciniphila, Protect the Progression of Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76520.
Gut microbiota play an important part in the pathogenesis of mucosal inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, owing to the complexity of the gut microbiota, our understanding of the roles of commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the maintenance of immune homeostasis in the gut is evolving only slowly. Here, we evaluated the role of gut microbiota and their secreting extracellular vesicles (EV) in the development of mucosal inflammation in the gut. Experimental IBD model was established by oral application of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to C57BL/6 mice. The composition of gut microbiota and bacteria-derived EV in stools was evaluated by metagenome sequencing using bacterial common primer of 16S rDNA. Metagenomics in the IBD mouse model showed that the change in stool EV composition was more drastic, compared to the change of bacterial composition. Oral DSS application decreased the composition of EV from Akkermansia muciniphila and Bacteroides acidifaciens in stools, whereas increased EV from TM7 phylum, especially from species DQ777900_s and AJ400239_s. In vitro pretreatment of A. muciniphila-derived EV ameliorated the production of a pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 from colon epithelial cells induced by Escherichia coli EV. Additionally, oral application of A. muciniphila EV also protected DSS-induced IBD phenotypes, such as body weight loss, colon length, and inflammatory cell infiltration of colon wall. Our data provides insight into the role of gut microbiota-derived EV in regulation of intestinal immunity and homeostasis, and A. muciniphila-derived EV have protective effects in the development of DSS-induced colitis.
PMCID: PMC3811976  PMID: 24204633
17.  A Review on Chemical-Induced Inflammatory Bowel Disease Models in Rodents 
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are a set of chronic, idiopathic, immunological and relapsing inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract referred to as inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD). Although the etiological factors involved in the perpetuation of IBD remain uncertain, development of various animal models provides new insights to unveil the onset and the progression of IBD. Various chemical-induced colitis models are widely used on laboratory scale. Furthermore, these models closely mimic morphological, histopathological and symptomatical features of human IBD. Among the chemical-induced colitis models, trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis, oxazolone induced-colitis and dextran sulphate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis models are most widely used. TNBS elicits Th-1 driven immune response, whereas oxazolone predominantly exhibits immune response of Th-2 phenotype. DSS-induced colitis model also induces changes in Th-1/Th-2 cytokine profile. The present review discusses the methodology and rationale of using various chemical-induced colitis models for evaluating the pathogenesis of IBD.
PMCID: PMC4146629  PMID: 25177159
Acetic acid; DSS; Inflammatory bowel disease; Oxazolone; TNBS
18.  Sleep deprivation worsens inflammation and delays recovery in a mouse model of colitis 
Sleep medicine  2009;10(6):597-603.
Background and aim
We recently showed that patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) report significantly more sleep disturbances. To determine whether disrupted sleep can affect the severity of inflammation and the course of IBD, we used an animal model of colonic inflammation to determine the effects of acute and chronic intermittent sleep deprivation on the severity of colonic inflammation and tissue damage in colitis and recovery from this damage.
Acute sleep deprivation (ASD) consisted of 24 h of forced locomotor activity in a mechanical wheel rotating at a constant speed. Chronic intermittent sleep deprivation (CISD) consisted of an acute sleep deprivation episode, followed by additional sleep deprivation periods in the wheel for 6 h every other day throughout the 10 day study period. To induce colitis, mice were given 2% dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) in their daily drinking water for 7 days. The development and severity of colitis were monitored by measuring weight loss and tissue myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity daily and colon histology scores 10 days after initiation of colitis.
ASD or CISD did not cause colonic inflammation in vehicle-treated mice. Changes in daily body weight, tissue MPO levels and colon histopathology score were similar between mice that were sleep deprived and controls. Daily DSS ingestion caused colitis in mice. ASD worsened colonic inflammation: tissue MPO levels in ASD/DSS-treated mice were significantly higher than in DSS-treated mice that were not sleep deprived. However, the worsening of colonic inflammation by ASD was not enough to exacerbate clinical manifestations of colitis such as weight loss. In contrast, the deleterious effects of CISD were severe enough to cause worsening of histological and clinical manifestations of colitis. The deleterious effects of sleep deprivation on severity of colitis appeared to be due to both increased colonic inflammation and a decrease in the ability of mice to recover from DSS-induced colonic injury.
Both acute and chronic intermittent sleep deprivation exacerbate colonic inflammation. Thus, sleep deprivation could be an environmental trigger that predisposes IBD patients to develop flare ups and a more severe disease course. These results provide a scientific rationale to conduct an interventional trial to determine whether improvement in sleep patterns will prevent IBD flare ups, modify the disease course, and improve quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3509796  PMID: 19403332
Inflammatory bowel disease; Sleep deprivation; Dextran sodium sulfate; Colitis; Myeloperoxidase; Sleep disturbance
19.  Green Tea Polyphenols and Sulfasalazine have Parallel Anti-Inflammatory Properties in Colitis Models 
Background: There is no cure for autoimmune chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD patients commonly use complementary and alternative medications of which the safety, efficacy, and interaction with standard-of-care therapies are not fully known. Thus the consequences can become life-threatening. Sulfasalazine commonly used in IBD, potentially has severe adverse effects, including infertility, pulmonary fibrosis, lack of response, and ultimately patients may require intestinal resection. We hypothesized that green tea polyphenols (GrTP, EGCG) and sulfasalazine have similar anti-inflammatory properties.
Methods: BALB/c mice received Dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce colitis (ulcerative colitis model). Exposure of IL-10 deficient mice (BALB/c-background) to normal microbiota provoked enterocolitis (mimics Crohn’s disease). Animals were treated with agents incorporated into daily diets. Control animals received sham treatment.
Results: DSS-treated animals developed severe bloody diarrhea and colitis (score 0–4, 3.2 ± 0.27). IL-10 deficient mice developed severe enterocolitis as manifested by diarrhea, rectal prolapse, and colonic lesions. Animals tolerated regimens (GrTP, EGCG, sulfasalazine) with no major side effects, and further developed less severe colitis. IL-10 deficient animals became moribund on high dose, while tolerated low and Mid doses with significant improved symptoms of enterocolitis. GrTP, EGCG, and sulfasalazine significantly ameliorated colonic damage and histological scores in treated animals in a similar manner (GrTP vs. DSS p < 0.05; EGCG, sulfasalazine vs. DSS p < 0.01). The inflammatory markers TNFα (3-fold), IL-6 (14-fold), and serum amyloid A (40-fold) increased in colitic animals and significantly decreased with treatment regiments. In contrast, circulatory leptin levels decreased in colitic animals (twofold). EGCG additionally reduced leptin levels (p < 0.01) while GrTP and sulfasalazine had no effect on leptin levels (p < 0.05). Hepatic and colonic antioxidants were significantly depleted in colitic animals and treatment regiments significantly restored antioxidants levels.
Conclusion: GrTP and EGCG improved antioxidants levels and attenuated severity of colitis analogous to sulfasalazine. Future studies will reveal whether polyphenols can become an alternative/additive therapy for IBD therapy in humans.
PMCID: PMC3672863  PMID: 23761791
IBD; enterocolitis; colitis; polyphenols; EGCG; sulfasalazine; IL-10−/− mice
20.  An Antibiotic-Responsive Mouse Model of Fulminant Ulcerative Colitis  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e41.
The constellation of human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which both display a wide spectrum in the severity of pathology. One theory is that multiple genetic hits to the host immune system may contribute to the susceptibility and severity of IBD. However, experimental proof of this concept is still lacking. Several genetic mouse models that each recapitulate some aspects of human IBD have utilized a single gene defect to induce colitis. However, none have produced pathology clearly distinguishable as either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, in part because none of them reproduce the most severe forms of disease that are observed in human patients. This lack of severe IBD models has posed a challenge for research into pathogenic mechanisms and development of new treatments. We hypothesized that multiple genetic hits to the regulatory machinery that normally inhibits immune activation in the intestine would generate more severe, reproducible pathology that would mimic either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
Methods and Findings
We generated a novel mouse line (dnKO) that possessed defects in both TGFβRII and IL-10R2 signaling. These mice rapidly and reproducibly developed a disease resembling fulminant human ulcerative colitis that was quite distinct from the much longer and more variable course of pathology observed previously in mice possessing only single defects. Pathogenesis was driven by uncontrolled production of proinflammatory cytokines resulting in large part from T cell activation. The disease process could be significantly ameliorated by administration of antibodies against IFNγ and TNFα and was completely inhibited by a combination of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Here, we develop to our knowledge the first mouse model of fulminant ulcerative colitis by combining multiple genetic hits in immune regulation and demonstrate that the resulting disease is sensitive to both anticytokine therapy and broad-spectrum antibiotics. These findings indicated the IL-10 and TGFβ pathways synergize to inhibit microbially induced production of proinflammatory cytokines, including IFNγ and TNFα, which are known to play a role in the pathogenesis of human ulcerative colitis. Our findings also provide evidence that broad-spectrum antibiotics may have an application in the treatment of patients with ulcerative colitis. This model system will be useful in the future to explore the microbial factors that induce immune activation and characterize how these interactions produce disease.
Paul Allen and colleagues describe the development of a mouse model of fulminant ulcerative colitis with multiple genetic hits in immune regulation which can be moderated by anti-cytokine therapy and broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a group of disorders characterized by inflammation (swelling) of the digestive tract (the tube that runs from the mouth to the anus), affects about 1.4 million people in the US. There are two main types of IBD. In Crohn's disease, which can affect any area of the digestive tract but most commonly involves the lower part of the small intestine (small bowel), all the layers of the intestine become inflamed. In ulcerative colitis, which primarily affects the colon (large bowel) and the rectum (the part of the bowel closest to the anus), only the lining of the bowel becomes inflamed, the cells in this lining die, and sores or ulcers form. Both types of IBD most commonly develop between the ages of 15 and 35 years, often run in families, and carry an increased risk of cancer. Symptoms—usually diarrhea and abdominal cramps—can be mild or severe and the disorder can develop slowly or suddenly. There is no medical cure for IBD, but drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) can help some people. Some people benefit from treatment with drugs that specifically inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines,” proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation (for example, TNFα and INFγ). When medical therapy fails, surgery to remove the affected part of the bowel may be necessary.
Why Was This Study Done?
Exactly what causes IBD is not clear, but people with IBD seem to have an overactive immune system. The immune system normally protects the body from harmful substances but in IBD it mistakenly recognizes the food substances and “good” bacteria that are normally present in the human gut as foreign and hence reacts against them. As a result, immune system cells accumulate in the lining of the bowel and cause inflammation. Several different pathways usually prevent inappropriate immune activation, so could IBD be caused by alterations in one or several of these immune regulatory pathways? In previous studies, mice with a defect in just one pathway have developed mild intestinal abnormalities but not the problems seen in the most severe forms of IBD. In this study, therefore, the researchers have generated and characterized a new mouse line with defects in two immune regulatory pathways to see whether this might be a better animal model of human IBD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To make their new mouse line, the researchers mated mice that had a defective TGFβ signaling pathway in their T lymphocytes with mice that had a defective IL-10 signaling pathway. Both these pathways are anti-inflammatory, and mice with defects in either pathway develop mild and variable inflammation of the colon (colitis) by age 3–4 months. By contrast, the doubly defective mice (dnKO mice) failed to thrive, lost weight, and died by 4–6 weeks of age. The colons of 4- to 5-week old dnKO mice were inflamed and ulcerated (some changes were visible in 3-week-old mice) and contained many immune system cells. Mice with a single defective signaling pathway had no gut abnormalities at this age. The dnKO mice, just like people with IBD, had higher than normal blood levels of IFNγ, TNFα, and other proinflammatory cytokines; these raised levels were the result of abnormal lymphocyte activation. Treatment of the dnKO mice with a combination of agents that neutralize IFNγ and TNFα (anti-cytokine therapy) greatly reduced the colitis seen in these mice; neutralization of IFNγ alone had some beneficial effects, but neutralization of TNFα alone had no effect. Finally, early treatment of the dnKO mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics completely inhibited colitis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that dnKO mice are a good model for fulminant (severe and rapidly progressing) ulcerative colitis and support the idea that IBD involves multiple genetic defects in immune regulation. They also indicate that the IL-10 and the TGFβ signaling pathways normally cooperate to inhibit the inappropriate immune responses to intestinal bacteria seen in IBD. This new mouse model should help researchers unravel what goes wrong in IBD and should also help them develop new treatments for ulcerative colitis. More immediately, these findings suggest that combined anti-cytokine therapy may be a better treatment for ulcerative colitis than single therapy. In addition, they suggest that clinical studies should be started to test whether broad-spectrum antibiotics can ameliorate ulcerative colitis in people.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Medline Plus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the UK National Health Service Direct Health Encyclopedia about Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Information and support for patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their caregivers is provided by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and by the UK National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease
PMCID: PMC2270287  PMID: 18318596
21.  Reversal of experimental colitis disease activity in mice following administration of an adenoviral IL-10 vector 
Genetic deficiency in the expression of interleukin-10 (IL-10) is associated with the onset and progression of experimental inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The clinical significance of IL-10 expression is supported by studies showing that immune-augmentation of IL-10 prevents inflammation and mucosal damage in animal models of colitis and in human colitis. Interleukin-10 (IL-10), an endogenous anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating cytokine, has been shown to prevent some inflammation and injury in animal and clinical studies, but the efficacy of IL-10 treatment remains unsatisfactory. We found that intra-peritoneal administration of adenoviral IL-10 to mice significantly reversed colitis induced by administration of 3% DSS (dextran sulfate), a common model of colitis. Adenoviral IL-10 (Ad-IL10) transfected mice developed high levels of IL-10 (394 +/- 136 pg/ml) within the peritoneal cavity where the adenovirus was expressed. Importantly, when given on day 4 (after the induction of colitis w/DSS), Ad-IL10 significantly reduced disease activity and weight loss and completely prevented histopathologic injury to the colon at day 10. Mechanistically, compared to Ad-null and DSS treated mice, Ad-IL10 and DSS-treated mice were able to suppress the expression of MAdCAM-1, an endothelial adhesion molecule associated with IBD. Our results suggest that Ad-IL10 (adenoviral IL-10) gene therapy of the intestine or peritoneum may be useful in the clinical treatment of IBD, since we demonstrated that this vector can reverse the course of an existing gut inflammation and markers of inflammation.
PMCID: PMC1291390  PMID: 16259632
22.  Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor are critical for control of the innate immune response to colonic injury 
BMC Immunology  2007;8:5.
The active form of vitamin D (1,25(OH)2D3) has been shown to inhibit development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in IL-10 KO mice. Here, the role of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and 1,25(OH)2D3 in acute experimental IBD was probed.
VDR KO mice were extremely sensitive to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) and there was increased mortality of the VDR KO mice at doses of DSS that only caused a mild form of colitis in wildtype (WT) mice. DSS colitis in the VDR KO mice was accompanied by high colonic expression of TNF-α, IL-1 α, IL-1β, IL-12, IFN-γ, IL-10, MIP-1α and KC. DSS concentrations as low as 0.5% were enough to induce bleeding, ulceration and weight loss in VDR KO mice. VDR KO mice failed to recover following the removal of DSS, while WT mice showed signs of recovery within 5 days of DSS removal. The early mortality of DSS treated VDR KO mice was likely due to perforation of the bowel and resulting endotoxemia. VDR KO mice were hyper-responsive to exogenously injected LPS and cultures of the peritoneal exudates of moribund DSS treated VDR KO mice were positive for bacterial growth. 1,25(OH)2D3 in the diet or rectally decreased the severity and extent of DSS-induced inflammation in WT mice.
The data point to a critical role for the VDR and 1,25(OH)2D3 in control of innate immunity and the response of the colon to chemical injury.
PMCID: PMC1852118  PMID: 17397543
23.  TNFR2 Activates MLCK-Dependent Tight Junction Dysregulation to Cause Apoptosis-Mediated Barrier Loss and Experimental Colitis 
Gastroenterology  2013;145(2):407-415.
Tight junction dysregulation and epithelial damage contribute to barrier loss in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the mechanisms that regulate these processes and their relative contributions to disease pathogenesis are incompletely understood. We investigated these processes using colitis models in mice.
We induced colitis by adoptive transfer of CD4+CD45RBhi cells or administration of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to mice, including those deficient in tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) 1, TNFR2, or the long isoform of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK). Intestinal tissues and isolated epithelial cells were analyzed by immunoblot, immunofluorescence, ELISA, and real-time PCR assays.
Induction of immune-mediated colitis by CD4+CD45RBhi adoptive transfer increased intestinal permeability; epithelial expression of claudin-2, the long isoform of MLCK, and TNFR2 (but not TNFR1); and phosphorylation of the myosin II light chain (MLC). Long MLCK upregulation, MLC phosphorylation, barrier loss, and weight loss were attenuated in TNFR2−/−, but not TNFR1−/−, recipients of wildtype CD4+CD45RBhi cells. Similarly, long MLCK−/− mice had limited increases in MLC phosphorylation, claudin-2 expression, and intestinal permeability and delayed onset of cell transfer-induced colitis. However, coincident with onset of epithelial apoptosis, colitis ultimately developed. This indicates that disease progresses via apoptosis in the absence of MLCK-dependent tight junction regulation. In support of this conclusion, long MLCK−/− mice were not protected from epithelial apoptosis-mediated, damage-dependent DSS colitis.
In immune-mediated IBD models, TNFR2 signaling increases long MLCK expression, resulting in tight junction dysregulation, barrier loss and induction of colitis. At advanced stages, colitis progresses by apoptosis and mucosal damage that results in tight junction- and MLCK-independent barrier loss. Therefore, barrier loss in immune-mediated colitis occurs via two temporally and morphologically distinct mechanisms. Differential targeting of these mechanisms may lead to improved IBD therapies.
PMCID: PMC3722284  PMID: 23619146
inflammatory bowel disease; epithelial barrier; intestinal permeability; disease progression
24.  Antiinflammatory Effect of Phytosterols in Experimental Murine Colitis Model: Prevention, Induction, Remission Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108112.
Phytosterols, besides hypocholesterolemic effect, present anti-inflammatory properties. Little information is available about their efficacy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Therefore, we have evaluated the effect of a mixture of phytosterols on prevention/induction/remission in a murine experimental model of colitis. Phytosterols were administered x os before, during and after colitis induction with Dextran Sodium Sulfate (DSS) in mice. Disease Activity Index (DAI), colon length, histopathology score, 18F-FDG microPET, oxidative stress in the intestinal tissue (ileum and colon) and gallbladder ileum and colon spontaneous and carbachol (CCh) induced motility, plasma lipids and plasma, liver and biliary bile acids (BA) were evaluated. A similar longitudinal study was performed in a DSS colitis control group. Mice treated with DSS developed severe colitis as shown by DAI, colon length, histopathology score, 18F-FDG microPET, oxidative stress. Both spontaneous and induced ileal and colonic motility were severely disturbed. The same was observed with gallbladder. DSS colitis resulted in an increase in plasma cholesterol, and a modification of the BA pattern. Phytosterols feeding did not prevent colitis onset but significantly reduced the severity of the disease and improved clinical and histological remission. It had strong antioxidant effects, almost restored colon, ileal and gallbladder motility. Plasmatic levels of cholesterol were also reduced. DSS induced a modification in the BA pattern consistent with an increase in the intestinal BA deconjugating bacteria, prevented by phytosterols. Phytosterols seem a potential nutraceutical tool for gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases, combining metabolic systematic and local anti-inflammatory effects.
PMCID: PMC4182327  PMID: 25268769
25.  Effect of live Salmonella Ty21a in Dextran Sulfate Sodium-induced Colitis 
Drug Target Insights  2007;2:221-228.
Intestinal microbiota seems to play an essential role in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). We hypothesised that an oral vaccine based on live Salmonella typhi would be well tolerated and could even attenuate dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) induced colitis in rats, an animal model of IBD.
Nine male Wistar rats was used for an initial tolerance study, in which we used 3 dose-levels of Salmonella Ty21a, 0.5 × 109, 1 × 109, and 2 × 109CFU, each dose being tested in 3 rats. Four treatment groups consisting of 8 male Wistar rats per group: 1) control group given standard food and water, 2) control group given four daily administrations of Salmonella Ty21a 1 × 109 CFU, 3) water with 5% DSS the last 7 days, 4) four daily administrations of Salmonella Ty21a before water with 5% DSS the last 7 days. The Salmonella Ty21a was administered by gastric gavage on day 1, 3, 5 and 16, while DSS was given with the drinking water from day 15 to 22. The animals were sacrificed and colonic tissue removed for analysis 22 days after gavage of the first vaccine dose.
The animals in the tolerance study got no signs of disease. In the treatment study, all animals receiving DSS had histologic indications of colitis, particularly in the distal part of the colon. Administration of Salmonella Ty21a had no significant effect on crypt and inflammation scores (p > 0.05).
Gastric administration of live vaccine strain Salmonella Ty21a was well tolerated, but did not provide any significant protection against development of DSS induced colitis in rats.
PMCID: PMC3155226  PMID: 21901076
salmonella Ty21a; colitis; rats; inflammatory bowel disease

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