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J Immunol. 1998 Oct 1;161(7):3675-84.

The regulation and functional consequence of proinflammatory cytokine binding on human intestinal epithelial cells.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY 10029, USA.


Products of an activated immune system may affect cells within the immune system as well as nonlymphoid cells in the local environment. Given the immunologically activated state of the intestinal tract, it is conceivable that locally produced cytokines could regulate epithelial cell function. To assess whether epithelial cells are targets for particular cytokines, we initiated studies on the binding of a panel of proinflammatory cytokines in freshly isolated epithelial cells from normal and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients as well as in cell lines. Isolated intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) were stained with phycoerythrin-conjugated or biotinylated cytokines to determine the expression and density of receptors for IL-1beta, IL-6, granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF), and TNF-alpha. Receptors for IL-1beta, IL-6, and GM-CSF were readily detectable in all epithelial cell preparations at levels equal to (GM-CSFR) or lower than those seen on monocytes. However TNFalpha-R were not detectable on freshly isolated IECs. Receptor density was greater in surface vs crypt epithelial cells, but no significant differences were seen between normal and IBD epithelial cells. Expression of IL-1R and IL-6R was enhanced by LPS and IFN-gamma. Functionally, IL-1beta enhanced proliferation of the IEC cell line, DLD1, whereas GM-CSF treatment of de-differentiated crypt-like DLD1 and HT29 cells resulted in enhanced expression of ICAM-1. Furthermore, TNF-alpha treatment enhanced the secretion of IL-8 and GRO-alpha in HT29 cells, but not in freshly isolated IEC cultures. The differential binding and function of proinflammatory cytokines on IEC support the hypothesis that these cytokines may be involved in normal physiological processes as well as in regulating mucosal immune responses.

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