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Gut. 2003 Oct;52(10):1448-56.

Inducible CD40 expression mediates NFkappaB activation and cytokine secretion in human colonic fibroblasts.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Regensburg, Germany.



CD40 has been shown to be a functional activation antigen on a variety of cell types involved in immune responses. As intestinal fibroblasts and myofibroblasts may play a role during mucosal inflammation, we investigated the functional consequences of CD40 induction in primary cultures of human colonic fibroblasts.


Primary colonic lamina propria fibroblasts (PCLF) were isolated from endoscopic biopsies and surgical specimens. Cultures were used between passages 3 and 9. CD40 surface display was determined by FACS analysis and mRNA expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Secretion of cytokines was determined by ELISA. Nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) activation was shown by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA).


After priming with interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) (200 U/ml) for 72 hours, five of eight tested PCLF cultures showed induction of CD40 surface display (up to 10-fold). Induction of CD40 mRNA expression was demonstrated by semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction. In the responder-PCLF cultures, IFN-gamma alone caused a 1.5-5-fold increase in interleukin (IL)-8 secretion. Addition of 1 ng/ml CD40L was sufficient to achieve a further increase in IL-8, IL-6, or monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) secretion (2.5-18-fold of controls). Incubation with CD40L alone without priming with IFN-gamma had no effect. The proteasome inhibitor N-acetyl-leucinyl-leucinyl-norleucinal (ALLN 100 microM) reduced IFN-gamma/CD40L mediated cytokine induction, suggesting participation of NFkappaB, which was directly demonstrated by EMSA. CD4+ T cells induced MCP-1 secretion by PCLF, which was prevented by addition of an excess of CD40-IgG fusion protein. CD40 expression on PCLF could also be demonstrated in vivo by immunohistochemistry.


The CD40-CD40L pathway augments mucosal inflammatory responses via mucosal PCLF. CD40-CD40L mediated T cell/PCLF interactions could play an important role during intestinal mucosal inflammation.

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