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J Exp Med. 2008 Sep 1;205(9):2099-110. doi: 10.1084/jem.20072484. Epub 2008 Aug 18.

The transcription factor NFATc2 controls IL-6-dependent T cell activation in experimental colitis.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Medicine, Johanes Gutenberg Univeristy, 55131 Mainz, Germany.


The nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) family of transcription factors controls calcium signaling in T lymphocytes. In this study, we have identified a crucial regulatory role of the transcription factor NFATc2 in T cell-dependent experimental colitis. Similar to ulcerative colitis in humans, the expression of NFATc2 was up-regulated in oxazolone-induced chronic intestinal inflammation. Furthermore, NFATc2 deficiency suppressed colitis induced by oxazolone administration. This finding was associated with enhanced T cell apoptosis in the lamina propria and strikingly reduced production of IL-6, -13, and -17 by mucosal T lymphocytes. Further studies using knockout mice showed that IL-6, rather than IL-23 and -17, are essential for oxazolone colitis induction. Administration of hyper-IL-6 blocked the protective effects of NFATc2 deficiency in experimental colitis, suggesting that IL-6 signal transduction plays a major pathogenic role in vivo. Finally, adoptive transfer of IL-6 and wild-type T cells demonstrated that oxazolone colitis is critically dependent on IL-6 production by T cells. Collectively, these results define a unique regulatory role for NFATc2 in colitis by controlling mucosal T cell activation in an IL-6-dependent manner. NFATc2 in T cells thus emerges as a potentially new therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel diseases.

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