Logo of gutGutVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Gut. 2001 Mar; 48(3): 425–429.
PMCID: PMC1760133

Role of interferon α in promoting T helper cell type 1 responses in the small intestine in coeliac disease


Coeliac disease (CD) is caused by a CD4 T helper cell type 1 (Th1) response in the small intestinal mucosa to dietary gluten. As the major Th1 inducing cytokine, interleukin 12, is undetectable in CD gut mucosa, the mechanism by which Th1 effector cells are generated remains unknown. Interferon (IFN) α, a cytokine capable of promoting IFN-γ synthesis, has been implicated in the development of Th1 mediated immune diseases. Here we report a case of CD-like enteropathy in a patient receiving IFN-α for chronic myeloid leukaemia. Morphological assessment of duodenal biopsies taken from the patient showed total villous atrophy, crypt cell hyperplasia, and a high number of CD3+ intraepithelial lymphocytes. Both antigliadin antibodies and antiendomysial antibodies were positive. RNA analysis revealed pronounced expression of IFN-γ. Withdrawal of gluten from the diet resulted in a patchy improvement in intestinal morphology, normalisation of laboratory parameters, and resolution of clinical symptoms. By western blot analysis, IFN-α protein was seen in the duodenal mucosa from untreated CD patients but not in controls. This was associated with marked expression of IFN-γ protein in CD mucosa. Collectively, these results suggest a role for IFN-α in promoting Th1 responses to gluten.

Keywords: coeliac disease; interferon; small intestine; T helper cell response

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (159K).

Figures and Tables

Figure 1
Frozen sections of duodenal biopsies taken from the patient receiving interferon α therapy before (top) and after (bottom) commencing a gluten free diet. Before the gluten free diet, the mucosa is flat, there is a dense infiltrate of ...
Figure 2
(Top) Southern blot analysis of transcripts for interferon (IFN) γ and β-actin in duodenal mucosal tissue homogenates from three normal controls, three untreated patients with coeliac disease (CD), and the patient with chronic ...

Articles from Gut are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    NCBI Bookshelf books that cite the current articles.
  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    PubChem chemical substance records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records.

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...