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1.  Infliximab in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease rapidly decreases fecal calprotectin levels 
AIM: To study the response to infliximab in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as reflected in fecal calprotectin levels.
METHODS: Thirty-six pediatric patients with IBD [23 Crohn’s disease (CD), 13 ulcerative colitis (UC); median age 14 years] were treated with infliximab. Fecal calprotectin was measured at baseline, and 2 and 6 wk after therapy, and compared to blood inflammatory markers. Maintenance medication was unaltered until the third infusion but glucocorticoids were tapered off if the patient was doing well.
RESULTS: At introduction of infliximab, median fecal calprotectin level was 1150 μg/g (range 54-6032 μg/g). By week 2, the fecal calprotectin level had declined to a median 261 μg/g (P < 0.001). In 37% of the patients, fecal calprotectin was normal (< 100 μg/g) at 2 wk. By week 6, there was no additional improvement in the fecal calprotectin level (median 345 μg/g). In 22% of the patients, fecal calprotectin levels increased by week 6 to pretreatment levels or above, suggesting no response (or a loss of early response). Thus, in CD, the proportion of non-responsive patients by week 6 seemed lower, because only 9% showed no improvement in their fecal calprotectin level when compared to the respective figure of 46% of the UC patients (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: When treated with infliximab, fecal calprotectin levels reflecting intestinal inflammation normalized rapidly in one third of pediatric patients suggesting complete mucosal healing.
PMCID: PMC3243882  PMID: 22215940
Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; Surrogate markers; Pediatrics; Monoclonal antibodies; Infliximab
2.  New means to monitor the effect of glucocorticoid therapy in children 
AIM: To study the individual effects of glucocorticoid (GC) therapy on the state of immune activation in patient serum.
METHODS: We developed a novel assay in which the effect of corticosteroid-treated patient serum on healthy donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells (target cells) was studied, with a panel of markers for effector [interferon (IFN)γ and interleukin (IL)-5] and regulatory T cells (FOXP3 and glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor, GITR). The study group comprised 19 children with inflammatory bowel disease. The individual effect of patient serum on target cells was analyzed prior to GC therapy and 2 wk later.
RESULTS: The effect of GC therapy mediated by patient serum was seen as a decrease in the target cells expression of regulatory T-cell-related markers GITR (median suppression 24%, range of suppression 1%-63%, in 2 cases increase of 6% and 77%, P < 0.01 for mitogen-activated target cells) and FOXP3 (median suppression 33%, range of suppression 0%-79%, in one case an increase of 173%, P < 0.05 for resting cells), and secretion of IFNγ [from a mean of 87 700 pg/mL (SD 33 900 pg/mL) to 60 900 pg/mL (SD 44 200 pg/mL) in mitogen-activated target cells, 13 of the cases showed a decrease, P < 0.01]. The total or weight-related prednisolone dose did not correlate with the patient-serum-induced changes in the target cell markers.
CONCLUSION: GC response could be monitored at an individual level by studying the effect of patient serum on signaling pathways of target immune cells.
PMCID: PMC2835787  PMID: 20205281
Glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor; FOXP3; Inflammatory bowel disease; Children
3.  Milk protein IgG and IgA: The association with milk-induced gastrointestinal symptoms in adults 
AIM: To study the association between serum levels of milk protein IgG and IgA antibodies and milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms in adults.
METHODS: Milk protein IgG and IgA antibodies were determined in serum samples of 400 subjects from five outpatient clinics in Southern Finland. Subjects were randomly selected from a total of 1900 adults undergoing laboratory investigations in primary care. All 400 participants had completed a questionnaire on abdominal symptoms and dairy consumption while waiting for the laboratory visit. The questionnaire covered the nature and frequency of gastrointestinal problems, the provoking food items, family history and allergies. Twelve serum samples were disqualified due to insufficient amount of sera. The levels of specific milk protein IgG and IgA were measured by using the ELISA technique. The association of the milk protein-specific antibody level was studied in relation to the milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms and dairy consumption.
RESULTS: Subjects drinking milk (n = 265) had higher levels of milk protein IgG in their sera than non-milk drinkers (n = 123, P < 0.001). Subjects with gastrointestinal problems related to milk drinking (n = 119) consumed less milk but had higher milk protein IgG levels than those with no milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms (n = 198, P = 0.02). Among the symptomatic subjects, those reporting dyspeptic symptoms had lower milk protein IgG levels than non-dyspeptics (P < 0.05). However, dyspepsia was not associated with milk drinking (P = 0.5). The association of high milk protein IgG levels with constipation was close to the level of statistical significance. Diarrhea had no association with milk protein IgG level (P = 0.5). With regard to minor symptoms, flatulence and bloating (P = 0.8), were not associated with milk protein IgG level. Milk protein IgA levels did not show any association with milk drinking or abdominal symptoms. The levels of milk protein IgA and IgG declined as the age of the subjects increased (P < 0.004).
CONCLUSION: Milk protein IgG but not milk IgA seems to be associated with self-reported milk-induced gastrointestinal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2764968  PMID: 19842221
Abdominal symptoms; Cow’s milk; Food hypersensitivity
4.  Molecularly defined adult-type hypolactasia in school-aged children with a previous history of cow’s milk allergy 
AIM: To assess the role of lactase non-persistence/persistence in school-aged children and their milk-related symptoms.
METHODS: The genotypes for the C/T-13910 variant associated with lactase non-persistence/ persistence were determined using PCR-minisequencing in a group of 172 children with a mean age of 8.6 years (SE = 0.02, 93 boys) participating in a follow-up study for cow’s milk allergy. The parents were asked to assess their children’s milk consumption and abdominal symptoms.
RESULTS: The presence of allergy to cow’s milk was not associated with the C/C-13910 genotype related with a decline of lactase enzyme activity during childhood (lactase non-persistence). The frequency of the C/C-13910 genotype (16%) was similar to published figures for the prevalence of adult-type hypolactasia in Finland. The majority of the children (90%) in this series consumed milk but 26% of their families suspected that their children had milk-related symptoms. Forty-eight percent of the children with the C/C-13910 genotype did not drink milk at all or consumed a low lactose containing diet prior to the genotyping (P < 0.004 when compared to the other genotypes).
CONCLUSION: Analysis of the C/T-13910 polymorphism is an easy and reliable method for excluding adult-type hypolactasia in children with milk-related symptoms. Genotyping for this variant can be used to advise diets for children with a previous history of cow’s milk allergy.
PMCID: PMC4087659  PMID: 16610034
Adult-type hypolactasia; Primary lactose malabsorption; Genetic testing; Cow’s milk allergy
5.  Fecal Calprotectin and Clinical Disease Activity in Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2013;2013:179024.
Objective. To explore fecal calprotectin levels in pediatric ulcerative colitis (UC) in relation with the validated clinical activity index PUCAI. Methods. This study included all 37 children (median age 14 years) with UC who had calprotectin measured (PhiCal ELISA Test) by the time of PUCAI assessment at the Children's Hospital of Helsinki in a total of 62 visits. Calprotectin values <100 μg/g of stool were considered as normal. The best cut-off value of each measure to predict 3-month clinical outcome was derived by maximizing sensitivity and specificity. Results. In clinically active disease (PUCAI ≥ 10), calprotectin was elevated in 29/32 patients (91% sensitivity). When in clinical remission, 26% (8/30) of the children had normal calprotectin but 7 (23%) had an exceedingly high level (>1000 μg/g). The best cut-off value for calprotectin for predicting poor outcome was 800 μg/g (sensitivity 73%, specificity 72%; area under the ROC curve being 0.71 (95%CI 0.57–0.85)) and for the PUCAI best cut-off values >10 (sensitivity 62%, specificity 64%; area under the ROC curve 0.714 (95%CI 0.58–0.85)). Conclusion. The clinical relevance of somewhat elevated calprotectin during clinical remission in pediatric UC is not known and, until further evidence accumulates, does not indicate therapy escalation.
PMCID: PMC3600299  PMID: 23533791
6.  Trends in Early Outpatient Drug Therapy in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Finland: A Nationwide Register-Based Study in 1999–2009 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2012;2012:462642.
Objective. There are limited data on the changes of treatment strategies of disease-modifying drugs used to treat pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods. We utilized data from two national registers: the Drug Reimbursement Register for drug costs (for identifying children with IBD) and the Drug Purchase Register (for exposure to drugs), both of which are maintained by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. The frequencies and trends of drug therapy strategies during the first year of pediatric IBD were evaluated between 1999 and 2009. Results. A total of 481 children diagnosed with IBD were identified. During the first six months, 68% of the patients purchased systemic corticosteroids; these combined with 5-aminosalicylic acid in almost all cases. The use of corticosteroids was stable from the early years compared with the end of the study period. In Crohn's disease, there was a trend towards more active use of azathioprine: the therapy was introduced earlier and proportion of pediatric patients purchasing azathioprine increased by up to 51% (P < 0.05). Conclusions. In pediatric IBD, the majority of patients purchased corticosteroid within the first six months, reflecting moderate-to-severe disease. During recent years in pediatric Crohn's disease, the therapeutic strategies of oral medication have changed towards more active immunosuppression with azathioprine.
PMCID: PMC3431087  PMID: 22957263
7.  Should milk-specific IgE antibodies be measured in adults in primary care? 
To study the association of milk-IgE antibodies in serum to milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms in adults in primary care.
Open clinical study.
Five outpatient clinics in primary care in Southern Finland.
A total of 756 subjects who reported milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms in primary care and as controls 101 subjects with no such symptoms.
IgE values for specific food antigens were measured (Pharmacia CAP System) in a total of 857 subjects. All food screen-positive samples (>0.35 IU/l) were analysed further for IgE for untreated skimmed milk (milk-IgE) and for boiled milk. Those found positive for milk-IgE were invited for an open milk challenge test.
Some 5.4% (46/857) of all subjects had a positive IgE antibody screen for food antigens. Of those with a positive food screen, 28% (13/46) had milk-IgE antibodies comprising 1.5% of the total group screened. The prevalence of milk-IgE was not statistically different between those with milk-related symptoms and those with no such symptoms. IgE antibodies for boiled milk were rare. All specific IgE antibody levels were low. Bloating was the only observed symptom in milk challenge tests.
IgE antibodies to cow's milk were relatively rare in the adult population and were not indicative of milk protein allergy. The observed IgE levels were low and did not correlate with subjective milk-related symptoms. The measurement of milk-specific IgE in adults should be discouraged in outpatient clinics.
PMCID: PMC3406635  PMID: 18609255
Abdominal symptoms; cow's milk; food hypersensitivity; primary care
8.  Complementary and alternative medicine use in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease and juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
The use of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is potentially prevalent among paediatric patients with chronic diseases but with variable rates among different age groups, diseases and countries. There are no recent reports on CAM use among paediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in Europe. We hypothesized that CAM use associates with a more severe disease in paediatric IBD and JIA.
A cross-sectional questionnaire study among adolescent outpatients with IBD and JIA addressing the frequency and type of CAM use during the past year. The patients were recruited at the Children’s Hospital, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Of the 147 respondents, 97 had IBD (Crohn’s disease: n = 46; median age 15.5, disease duration 3.4 years) and 50 had JIA (median age 13.8, disease duration 6.9 years). During the past 12 months, 48% regularly used CAM while 81% reported occasional CAM use. Compared to patients with JIA, the use of CAM in IBD patients tended to be more frequent. The most commonly used CAM included probiotics, multivitamins, and mineral and trace element supplements. Self-imposed dietary restrictions were common, involving 27.6% of the non-CAM users but 64.8% of all CAM users. Disease activity was associated with CAM use in JIA but not in IBD.
CAM use is frequent among adolescents with IBD and JIA and associates with self-imposed dietary restrictions. Reassuringly, adherence to disease modifying drugs is good in young CAM users. In JIA, patients with active disease used more frequently CAM than patients with inactive disease. As CAM use is frequent, physicians should familiarise themselves with the basic concepts of CAM. The potential pharmacological interaction or the toxicity of certain CAM products warrants awareness and hence physicians should actively ask their patients about CAM use.
PMCID: PMC4101821  PMID: 24708564
Children; Colitis ulcerative; Crohn’s disease; Juvenile idiopathic arthritis; Paediatric
9.  Screening for adrenal suppression in children with inflammatory bowel disease discontinuing glucocorticoid therapy 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14:51.
Pharmacological doses of corticoids may result in adrenal suppression but with individual sensitivity. In paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), glucocorticoids are needed in the majority of the patients but there are less studies related to tapering off the drugs. The objective of this study was to estimate the frequency of adrenal insufficiency in children with IBD that were at the end of their systemic glucocorticoid therapy course.
The study was a retrospective case series of 59 consecutive paediatric IBD patients (median age 14.1 years; Crohn’s disease n = 22, ulcerative colitis n = 26, unclassified colitis n = 11) that were on oral prednisolone therapy about to be discontinued. The study patients were treated in a tertiary university hospital setting. Serum morning cortisol was measured with Immulite 2000 cortisol kit. Values < 20 nmol/l are undetectable and indicate adrenal suppression, values > 69 nmol/l are considered to represent normal basal secretion.
The morning cortisol was below the reference range in 20% of the patients and undetectable in 10%. Low cortisol levels associated with higher daily glucocorticoid doses (median 7.2 mg/m2 vs. 3.0 mg/m2 in patients with normal cortisol levels, p < 0.05) and with the long duration of the treatment (median 11 months vs. 4 months, p < 0.05). Patients with undetectable cortisol levels recovered within few weeks (median 5.6 weeks).
In paediatric IBD prolonged courses of glucocorticoids are frequent due to the steroid-dependent nature of the disease in a considerable proportion of patients. Adrenal suppression may occur in at least one fifth of the patients despite slowly tapering off the glucocorticoids. Notably, this is based on a set of serum cortisol measurements by request of experienced clinicians. All paediatric IBD patients receiving conventional doses of oral glucocorticoids should be subjected to screening for adrenal suppression when anticipated discontinuation of the drug.
PMCID: PMC3987131  PMID: 24661924
Adverse effects; Crohn’s disease; Paediatrics; Steroids; Ulcerative colitis
10.  Markers of gut mucosal inflammation and cow’s milk specific immunoglobulins in non-IgE cow’s milk allergy 
Allergy to cow’s milk protein (CMP) may cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in the absence of CMP specific IgE. The immunological mechanisms involved in such disease are not fully understood. Therefore we examined markers of gut mucosal inflammation and the immunoglobulin profiles in children with Gl symptoms suspected of cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA).
Patients and methods
We prospectively recruited infants and young children (n = 57; median age 8.7 months) with gastrointestinal complaints suspected of CMPA. The diagnosis of CMPA was made using the double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge. Serum and stool samples were collected during CMP-free diet and after both placebo and active challenges. We analyzed the stool samples for calprotectin, human β-defensin 2 and IgA. In serum, we analyzed the levels of β-lactoglobulin and α-casein specific IgA, and IgG antibodies (total IgG and subclasses IgG1 and IgG4). Control group included children with e.g. dermatological or pulmonary problems, consuming normal diets.
Fecal calprotectin levels were higher in the challenge positive group (n = 18) than in the negative (n = 37), with respective geometric means 55 μg/g [95% confidence interval 38–81] and 29 [24–36] μg/g (p = 0.0039), during cow’s milk free diet. There were no significant inter-group differences in the fecal β-defensin and IgA levels. The CMP specific IgG and IgA were not elevated in patients with CMPA, but the levels of β-lactoglobulin-IgG4 (p = 0.0118) and α-casein-IgG4 (p = 0.0044), and total α-casein-IgG (p = 0.0054) and -IgA (p = 0.0050) in all patient samples (regardless of CMPA diagnosis) were significantly lower compared to the control group using dairy products.
Despite cow’s milk elimination in children intolerant to cow’s milk there might be ongoing low-grade inflammation in the gut mucosa. CMP specific IgG or IgA should not be used to diagnose non-IgE CMPA. The observed frequency of impaired CMP specific total IgA, IgG and IgG4 production in patients following cow’s milk free diet warrants further studies.
PMCID: PMC3946153  PMID: 24598281
11.  Low trypsinogen-1 expression in pediatric ulcerative colitis patients who undergo surgery 
AIM: To investigate whether matrix metalloproteinases-9 (MMP-9) or trypsinogens could serve as histological markers for an aggressive disease course in pediatric ulcerative colitis (UC).
METHODS: We identified 24 patients with pediatric onset (≤ 16 years) UC who had undergone surgery during childhood/adolescence a median of 2.1 years (range 0.1-7.4 years) after the diagnosis (between 1990 and 2008) in Children’s Hospital, Helsinki, Finland. We also identified 27 conservatively treated UC patients and matched them based on their age at the time of diagnosis and follow-up at a median of 6 years (range 3-11 years) to serve as disease controls. Twenty children for whom inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) had been excluded as a result of endoscopy served as non-IBD controls. Colon biopsies taken by diagnostic endoscopy before the onset of therapy were stained using immunohistochemistry to study the expression of MMP-9, trypsinogen-1 (Tryp-1), Tryp-2, and a trypsin inhibitor (TATI). The profiles of these proteases and inhibitor at diagnosis were compared between the surgery group, the conservatively treated UC patients and the non-IBD controls.
RESULTS: The proportions of Tryp-1 and Tryp-2 positive samples in the colon epithelium and in the inflammatory cells of the colon stroma were comparable between the studied groups at diagnosis. Interestingly, the immunopositivity of Tryp-1 (median 1; range 0-3) was significantly lower in the epithelium of the colon in the pediatric UC patients undergoing surgery when compared to that of the conservatively treated UC patients (median 2; range 0-3; P = 0.03) and non-IBD controls (median 2; range 0-3; P = 0.04). For Tryp-2, there was no such difference. In the inflammatory cells of the colon stroma, the immunopositivities of Tryp-1 and Tryp-2 were comparable between the studied groups at diagnosis. Also, the proportion of samples positive for TATI, as well as the immunopositivity, was comparable between the studied groups in the colon epithelium. In the stromal inflammatory cells of the colon, TATI was not detected. In UC patients, there were significantly more MMP-9 positive samples and a higher immunopositivity in the stromal inflammatory cells of the colon when compared to the samples from the non-IBD patients (P = 0.006 and P = 0.002, respectively); the immunopositivity correlated with the histological grade of inflammation (95%CI: 0.22-0.62; P = 0.0002), but not with the other markers of active disease. There were no differences in the immunopositivity or in the proportions of MMP-9 positive samples when examined by epithelial staining. The staining profiles in the ileal biopsies were comparable between the studied groups for all of the studied markers.
CONCLUSION: For pediatric UC patients who require surgery, the immunopositivity of Tryp-1 at diagnosis is lower when compared to that of patients with a more benign disease course.
PMCID: PMC3671079  PMID: 23745029
Children; Ulcerative colitis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Matrix metalloproteinase-9 resection; Trypsin inhibitor
12.  Cognitive functioning and depressive symptoms in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease 
AIM: To investigate cognitive functioning and depressive symptoms in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
METHODS: A neuropsychological test battery, including subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised and III, Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised, California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), Stroop Color-Word Test, and Trail Making Test, which assessed verbal and visual short- and long-term memory, processing speed, logical reasoning, verbal intelligence, attention, and executive functioning, was administered to 13- to 19-year-old patients with IBD (n = 34; active disease n = 20). Depressive symptoms were measured with the Beck Depression Inventory. The findings were compared with peers with non-acute juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA; n = 23). Patients with coexisting psychiatric disorders were excluded.
RESULTS: The IBD group, especially patients in the acute phase, made more perseverative errors in the CVLT test that assessed verbal memory than the JIA group (6.0 ± 4.3 vs 3.3 ± 2.9, P < 0.01), but no other differences between the IBD and JIA groups were observed in the neuropsychological tests. The difference was close to statistical significance, even when glucocorticoid medication was controlled for (P < 0.052). The IBD group had more depressive symptoms than the JIA group (7.9 ± 7.6 vs 4.0 ± 4.0, P < 0.05). Approximately one third of the IBD group had at least mild depressive symptoms, and those with acute illness had the highest scores. However, depressive symptoms were not related to the difference in the verbal memory test (perseverative errors in the CVLT) between the IBD and JIA groups.
CONCLUSION: Adolescents with acute IBD may have mild verbal memory problems but no major cognitive deficits compared to peers with JIA.
PMCID: PMC3602478  PMID: 23538788
Cognitive impairment; Inflammatory bowel disease; Crohn’s disease; Depressive symptoms; Ulcerative colitis; Adolescents
13.  Matrix metalloproteinases in the restorative proctocolectomy pouch of pediatric ulcerative colitis 
AIM: To investigate matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs) in pouch mucosa of pediatric onset ulcerative colitis (UC).
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 28 patients with pediatric onset UC underwent ileal pouch biopsy 13 years (median) after proctocolectomy. Expression of MMPs-3, -7, -8, -9, -12 and -26 and TIMPs-1, -2 and -3 in samples was examined using immunohistochemichal methods, and another biopsy was used to evaluate the grade of histological inflammation. Two investigators independently graded the immunohistochemical specimens in a semiquantitative fashion, using a scale marking staining intensity as follows: 0 = less than 20 positive cells; 1 = 20-50 positive cells; 2 = 50-200 positive cells; 3 = over 20 positive cells. Fecal calprotectin and blood inflammatory markers [serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate] were determined during a follow-up visit to examine correlations between these markers and the expression of MMPs and TIMPs.
RESULTS: Of the 28 patients with pediatric onset UC, nine had not experienced pouchitis, whereas thirteen reported a single episode, and six had recurrent pouchitis (≥ 4 episodes). At the time of the study, six patients required metronidazole. In all of the others, the most recent episode of pouchitis had occurred over one month earlier, and none were on antibiotics. Only four samples depicted no sign of inflammation, and these were all from patients who had not had pouchitis. Two samples were too small to determine the grade of inflammation, but both had suffered pouchitis, the other recurrent. No sample depicted signs of colonic metaplasia. Most pouch samples showed expression of epithelial (e) and stromal (s) MMP-3 (e, n = 22; s, n = 20), MMP-7 (e, n = 28; s, n = 27), MMP-12 (e, n = 20; s, n =24), TIMP-2 (e, n = 23; s, n = 23) and MMP-3 (e, n = 23; s, n = 28) but MMP-8 (e, n = 0; s, n = 1), MMP-9 (e, n = 0; s, n = 9) and MMP-26 (e, n = 0; s, n = 3) and TIMP-1 (n = 0, both) were lacking. In samples with low grade of inflammatory activity, the epithelial MMP-3 and MMP-7 expression was increased (r = -0.614 and r = -0.472, respectively, P < 0.05 in both). MMPs and TIMPs did not correlate with the markers of inflammation, fecal calprotectin, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or CRP, with the exception of patients with low fecal calprotectin (< 100 μg/g) in whom a higher expression of epithelial MMP-7 was found no differences in MMP- or TIMP-profiles were seen in patients with a history of pouchitis compared to ones with no such episodes. Anastomosis with either straight ileoanal anastomosis or ileoanal anastomosis with J-pouch did depict differences in MMP- or TIMP-expression.
CONCLUSION: The expression of MMPs pediatric UC pouch in the long-term shares characteristics with inflammatory bowel disease, but inflammation cannot be classified as a reactivation of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3420000  PMID: 22912554
Children; Matrix metalloproteinase 3; Tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 3; Matrix metalloproteinase 7; Pouchitis; Ulcerative colitis
14.  Serum immune-activation potency and response to anti-TNF-α therapy in Crohn's disease 
AIM: To study whether immune-activation stage in serum of adult Crohn’s disease (CD) patients correlates with disease activity and with treatment response to anti-tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) therapy.
METHODS: Serum samples were obtained from 15 adult CD patients introduced to anti-TNF-α therapy. The individual stage of immune activation was studied applying our new in vitro assay, in which target cells (donor derived peripheral blood mononuclear cells) were cultured with patient serum and the T-cell activation induced by the patient serum was studied using a panel of markers for effector [interferon γ (IFNγ), interleukin (IL)-5] and regulatory T-cells [forkhead transcription factor 3 (FOXP3) and glucocorticoid-induced tumour necrosis factor receptor (GITR)]. The endoscopic disease activity was assessed with the Crohn’s disease endoscopic index of severity (CDEIS) before and 3 mo after therapy with an anti-TNF-α agent.
RESULTS: Low induction of FOXP3 and GITR in target cells cultured in the presence of patient serum was associated with high disease activity i.e. CDEIS assessed before therapy (r = -0.621, P = 0.013 and r = -0.625, P = 0.013, respectively). FOXP3 expression correlated inversely with pre-treatment erythrocyte sedimentation rate (r = -0.548, P = 0.034). Low serum induced FOXP3 (r = -0.600, P = 0.018) and GITR (r = -0.589, P = 0.021) expression and low IFNγ secretion from target cells (r = -0.538, P = 0.039) associated with treatment response detected as a decrease in CDEIS.
CONCLUSION: The immune-activation potency in the patient serum prior to anti-TNF-α therapy reflected intestinal inflammation and the therapeutic response.
PMCID: PMC3001976  PMID: 21155006
Crohn’s disease endoscopic index of severity; Forkhead transcription factor 3; Glucocorticoid-induced tumour necrosis factor receptor; Infliximab; Inflammatory bowel disease
15.  High-sensitivity C-reactive protein in paediatric inflammatory bowel disease 
AIM: To study whether high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) measurement can aid the assessment of disease activity and glucocorticoid treatment in paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
METHODS: CRP levels were measured in 39 children with IBD undergoing colonoscopy [median age 12.8 years, Crohn’s disease (CD) n = 20], in 22 other children with IBD followed for acute response to glucocorticoids, and in 33 paediatric non-IBD patients. When standard CRP level was below detection limit (< 5 mg/L), hs-CRP was analyzed.
RESULTS: Sixty-four percent (25/39) of the children with IBD undergoing colonoscopy displayed undetectable (< 5 mg/L) standard CRP levels. Of these, the hs-CRP measurement could not differentiate between active (median, 0.2 mg/L, range, 0.007-1.37, n = 17) or quiescent (0.1 mg/L, 0.01-1.89, n = 8, P = NS) disease. Patients with ileocolonic CD had higher CRP levels (14 mg/L, 0.06-45, n = 13) than patients with no ileal involvement (0.18 mg/L, 0.01-9, n = 7, P < 0.01) or ulcerative colitis (UC) (0.13 mg/L, 0.007-23, P < 0.05). In children with active IBD treated with systemic glucocorticoids, the standard CRP was undetectable in 59% of the patients. The hs-CRP levels did not differ between patients that responded to steroid therapy and in non-responders.
CONCLUSION: The measurement of hs-CRP did not prove useful in the assessment of disease activity or glucocorticoid treatment in paediatric IBD patients that had undetectable standard CRP.
PMCID: PMC2887586  PMID: 20556836
C-reactive protein; Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; Children; Inflammatory markers
16.  Molecularly defined adult-type hypolactasia among working age people with reference to milk consumption and gastrointestinal symptoms 
AIM: To study milk consumption and subjective milk-related symptoms in adults genotyped for adult-type hypolactasia.
METHODS: A total of 1900 Finnish adults were genotyped for the C/T-13910 variant of adult-type hypolactasia and filled in a structured questionnaire concerning milk consumption and gastrointestinal problems.
RESULTS: The C/C-13910 genotype of adult-type hypolactasia was present in 18% of the study population. The prevalence of the C/C-13910 genotype was higher among subjects who were undergoing investigations because of abdominal symptoms (24%, P < 0.05). Those with the C/C-13910 genotype drank less milk than subjects with either the C/T-13910 or the T/T-13910 genotype of lactase persistence (18% vs 38%; 18% vs 36%, P < 0.01). Subjects with the C/C-13910 genotype had experienced more gastrointestinal symptoms (84%) during the preceding three-month period than those with the C/T-13910 (79%, P < 0.05) or the T/T-13910 genotype (78 %, P < 0.05). Only 9% (29/338) of the subjects with the C/C-13910 genotype consumed milk and reported no symptoms from it.
CONCLUSION: Gastrointestinal symptoms are more common among adults with the C/C-13910 genotype of adult-type hypolactasia than in those with genotypes of lactase persistence.
PMCID: PMC4146998  PMID: 17451204
Lactase persistence; Lactose malabsorption; C/T-13910 genotype; Abdominal symptoms; Milk consumption
17.  Extendable blocking probe in reverse transcription for analysis of RNA variants with superior selectivity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;43(1):e4.
Here we provide the first strategy to use a competitive Extendable Blocking Probe (ExBP) for allele-specific priming with superior selectivity at the stage of reverse transcription. In order to analyze highly similar RNA variants, a reverse-transcriptase primer whose sequence matches a specific variant selectively primes only that variant, whereas mismatch priming to the alternative variant is suppressed by virtue of hybridization and subsequent extension of the perfectly matched ExBP on that alternative variant template to form a cDNA–RNA hybrid. This hybrid will render the alternative RNA template unavailable for mismatch priming initiated by the specific primer in a hot-start protocol of reverse transcription when the temperature decreases to a level where such mismatch priming could occur. The ExBP-based reverse transcription assay detected BRAF and KRAS mutations in at least 1000-fold excess of wild-type RNA and detection was linear over a 4-log dynamic range. This novel strategy not only reveals the presence or absence of rare mutations with an exceptionally high selectivity, but also provides a convenient tool for accurate determination of RNA variants in different settings, such as quantification of allele-specific expression.
PMCID: PMC4288146  PMID: 25378315
18.  Sleep and Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms in Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
Sleep Disorders  2014;2014:379450.
The current study assessed the associations between sleep and psychosocial symptoms in 157 Finnish adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Sleep trouble was self-rated in Sleep Self-Report (SSR) and in Youth Self-Report (YSR). Psychosocial symptoms of the adolescents were assessed by the YSR and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Patients reporting sleep trouble had significantly more psychosocial symptoms than their counterparts without sleep trouble. This was shown in the CBCL and YSR scales of total problems (P < 0.01), anxious/depressed mood (P < 0.05), and aggressive behavior (P < 0.01). Additionally, SSR sleep problem subscale scores indicating lower sleep quality (bedtime, sleep behavior) associated significantly with attention problems (P < 0.05). These results point out that sleep trouble should be recognized and treated in adolescents with IBD to possibly avoid the emerging of psychosocial symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4026992  PMID: 24876973
19.  In Crohn's Disease, Anti-TNF-α Treatment Changes the Balance between Mucosal IL-17, FOXP3, and CD4 Cells 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2012;2012:505432.
Aim. In Crohn's disease (CD), anti-TNF-α treatment is a potent medication. We aimed to characterize the effect of anti-TNF-α treatment on T effector and regulatory cells. Material and Methods. We studied T-effector and regulatory cells on cellular and mRNA levels in intestinal biopsy samples from 13 Crohn's disease patient. Biopsies were obtained at baseline and 3 months after anti-TNF-α treatment, and from 14 inflammation-free control subjects. Results. Patients had higher numbers of ileal IL-17+ and forkhead box P3 (FOXP3)+ cells than did control subjects, both before ( P ≤ 0.001 and P ≤ 0.05, resp.) and after the anti-TNF-α treatment (P ≤ 0.01, P ≤ 0.01). Intestinal interferon-γ and IL-17 mRNA expression was higher in Crohn's disease and remained elevated after anti-TNF-α treatment. The ratio of IL-17+ cells to CD4+ cells decreased (P ≤ 0.05) and compared to baseline the ratio of IL-17+ cells to FOXP3+ was lower after treatment (P ≤ 0.05). Conclusions. TNF-α-blocking agents improved intestinal balance between IL-17+ T-effector and regulatory T cells, although intestinal IL-17 upregulation remained elevated.
PMCID: PMC3384926  PMID: 22778976
20.  Differences in presentation and progression between severe FIC1 and BSEP deficiencies 
Journal of hepatology  2010;53(1):170-178.
Background & Aims
Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) with normal serum levels of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase can result from mutations in ATP8B1 (encoding familial intrahepatic cholestasis 1 [FIC1]) or ABCB11 (encoding bile salt export pump [BSEP]). We evaluated clinical and laboratory features of disease in patients diagnosed with PFIC, who carried mutations in ATP8B1 (FIC1 deficiency) or ABCB11 (BSEP deficiency). Our goal was to identify features that distinguish presentation and course of these 2 disorders, thus facilitating diagnosis and elucidating the differing consequences of ATP8B1 and ABCB11 mutations.
A retrospective multi-center study was conducted, using questionnaires and chart review. Available clinical and biochemical data from 145 PFIC patients with mutations in either ATP8B1 (61 “FIC1 patients”) or ABCB11 (84 “BSEP patients”) were evaluated.
At presentation, serum aminotransferase and bile salt levels were higher in BSEP patients; serum alkaline phosphatase values were higher, and serum albumin values were lower, in FIC1 patients. Elevated white blood cell counts, and giant or multinucleate cells at liver biopsy, were more common in BSEP patients. BSEP patients more often had gallstones and portal hypertension. Diarrhea, pancreatic disease, rickets, pneumonia, abnormal sweat tests, hearing impairment, and poor growth were more common in FIC1 patients. Among BSEP patients, the course of disease was less rapidly progressive in patients bearing the D482G mutation.
Severe forms of FIC1 and BSEP deficiency differed. BSEP patients manifested more severe hepatobiliary disease, while FIC1 patients showed greater evidence of extrahepatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3042805  PMID: 20447715
cholestasis; genetics; transport protein; pediatrics; P-type ATPase; ATP binding cassette protein; ATP8B1; FIC1; ABCB11; BSEP
21.  Fecal Calprotectin levels and Serological Responses to Microbial Antigens among Children and Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2009;15(2):199-205.
Non-invasive, sensitive and specific tools for early identification of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are needed for clinical practice. The aim was to identify new non-invasive test combinations for characterization of IBD in children and adolescents by comparing serological responses to microbial antigens and fecal calprotectin, a new promising marker for intestinal inflammation.
Patients and methods
Our study included 73 children who underwent endoscopies because of suspicion of IBD. Their sera were tested for antibodies to the Pseudomonas fluorescens-associated sequence I2, a Bacteroides caccae TonB-linked outer membrane protein, OmpW and anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ASCA). Simultaneously, samples for fecal calprotectin measurements were obtained from 55 subjects.
IBD was diagnosed in 60 patients (CD in 18 patients, UC in 36 and IC in six). Thirteen children had a non-IBD disease. Fecal calprotectin levels were elevated (≥ 100ug/g) more frequently in IBD patients (89%, 39/44) compared to non-IBD cases (9%, 1/11, p<0.001). ASCA antibodies in sera were detected in 67% (12/18) of patients with CD, in 14% (5/36) of the children with UC and in 50% (3/6) of patients with IC. Seroreactivity for I2 was observed in 42% of the IBD patients, this frequency being higher than in non-IBD cases (7,7% seropositive; p=0.025). Serum anti-I2 IgA levels (median absorbances) were higher in those with IBD compared to those without gut inflammation (p=0.039). The combination of the measurements of fecal calprotectin and serological responses to microbial antigens (ASCA, I2 and OmpW) identified 100% of CD patients (sensitivity 100%, specificity 36%, PPV 66%, NPV 100%) and 89% of UC patients (sensitivity 89%, specificity 36%, PPV 77%, NPV 57%).
Increased levels of serological responses to microbial antigens (ASCA, I2 and OmpW) and fecal calprotectin are evident in both CD and UC patients. The combination of these markers provides valuable, non-invasive tools for the diagnostics of IBD.
PMCID: PMC2627785  PMID: 18618670
Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; microbial antigens; I2; OmpW; calprotectin
22.  Lactose inhibits regulatory T-cell-mediated suppression of effector T-cell interferon-γ and IL-17 production 
The British Journal of Nutrition  2014;112(11):1819-1825.
Our interest in lactose as an immunomodulatory molecule results from studies showing that lactose binds to galectin-9, which has been shown to have various regulatory functions in the immune system including regulation of T-cell responses. Impaired regulation of T helper (Th)1 and Th17 type immune responses and dysfunction of regulatory T cells (Treg) have been implicated in many human immune-mediated diseases. In the present study, we investigated the effects of lactose on immune regulation using co-cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC)-derived Treg and effector T cells (Teff) obtained from twenty healthy adults. Treg, i.e. CD4+CD25+CD127−, were isolated from PBMC by immunomagnetic separation. The fraction of CD4+CD127− cells that was depleted of CD25+ cells was used as Teff. Treg and Teff at a ratio 1:5 were activated and the effects of lactose on the secretion of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-17 were analysed using ELISA for protein and quantitative RT-PCR for mRNA. Treg down-regulated the secretion of both IFN-γ (8·8–3·9 ng/ml, n 20, P= 0·003) and IL-17 (0·83–0·64 ng/ml, n 15, P= 0·04) in co-cultures, while in the presence of lactose the levels of secreted IFN-γ and IL-17 remained high and no down-regulation was observed (16·4 v. 3·99 ng/ml, n 20, P< 0·0001, and 0·74 v. 0·64 ng/ml, n 15, P= 0·005, respectively). We showed that lactose inhibits human Treg-mediated suppression of Th1 and Th17 immune responses in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4239808  PMID: 25331548
Lactose; Inflammation; Immunomodulation; T cells

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