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J Immunol. 1999 Oct 1;163(7):4049-57.

Hyperexpression of CD40 ligand (CD154) in inflammatory bowel disease and its contribution to pathogenic cytokine production.

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Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.


CD40 ligand (CD40L or CD154), a type II membrane protein with homology to TNF, is transiently expressed on activated T cells and known to be important for B cell Ig production and for activation and differentiation of monocytes and dendritic cells. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are characterized by local production of cytokines such as TNF and by an influx of activated lymphocytes into inflamed mucosa. Herein, we investigated whether CD40L signaling participates in immune responses in these diseases. Our results demonstrated that CD40L was expressed on freshly isolated lamina propria T cells from these patients and was functional to induce IL-12 and TNF production by normal monocytes, especially after IFN-gamma priming. The inclusion of a blocking mAb to CD40L or CD40 in such cocultures significantly decreased monocyte IL-12 and TNF production. Moreover, lamina propria and peripheral blood T cells from these patients, after in vitro activation with anti-CD3, showed increased and prolonged expression of CD40L as compared with controls. Immunohistochemical analyses indicated that the number of CD40+ and CD40L+ cells was significantly increased in inflamed mucosa, being B cells/macrophages and CD4+ T cells, respectively. These findings suggest that CD40L up-regulation is involved in pathogenic cytokine production in inflammatory bowel disease and that blockade of CD40-CD40L interactions may have therapeutic effects for these patients.

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